Parent meetings can be intimidating but they do not have to be. So many youth leaders/pastor dread these meetings, as moments where they are put on the spot, questioned, or even feel like they are being critiqued. Often younger leaders feel threatened, put-down, or disrespected as they walk away from these important meetings.
Parent meetings are NEEDED and ESSENTIAL. As much as you want to avoid them or just not even have them at all, in-person communication to parent is a key part of a successful youth ministry, Here just a couple quick hints/helps to make your parent meeting successful.
- Plan them regularly and consistently. Have at least 2-4 a year, my suggestion would be beginning of the school year, middle of the year (right after Christmas), and end of the school year (before summer activities/trips)
- Communicate and announce them well in advance. Include them in youth ministry communication (emails, social media, and announcements…) church-wide communications (website, worship guides, stage announcements…)
- Dress like an adult. If you want to be seen as an adult, no matter your age, for the meeting dress like the adult you are addressing.
- Offer refreshments. People are more relaxed with a cookie and a cup of coffee in their hands. It makes it less of a meeting if people can mix and mingle with food. People will come in late, this buys those parents time to slip in 10 minutes late.
- Create a highlight video/slide show. Make it a “praise” moment, as you remind parents of all the good things that have been going on in the ministry. Parents love seeing their students laughing, smiling, and having fun.
- Start with an icebreaker/mixer. A 2-3 minute intentional time of activity will create opportunities for everyone to feel welcomed and connected.
- Create some light and fun moments. Tell a funny story, smile, and laugh. Don’t be all business. If you are all business, they will be all business. Parents sit through business meetings at work and parent orientation at school, think of ways to make your times different.
- Introduce yourself, your role, and your ministry clearly. Let parents know who you are, where you grew up, where you went to school, and what makes you qualified to be a part of their student’s life. Describe your role in 2-3 sentences. Have a clear ministry statement, vision, and purpose.
- Have an organized, short handout of information being communicated. Parents need to take something home to remember what you said, but it can’t be overwhelming. One page, front and back with basic information. If you have a bigger event/activity with additional forms offer that on the way out for those that need/want it.
- Stay on time and in the time promised. 45-minutes max if you are doing refreshments, something fun, and have a Q/A time.
- Make it more than information. If you are “talking” for more than 30 minutes you are toast. Stop yourself throughout, for a quick video, answer questions, or even have a 3-minute testimony.
- Invite your senior pastor or supervisor. Even if they don’t come you have offered it, it can’t hurt, it can only help. If they do come it buys you respect and support from them.
- Offer an opportunity for parents to ask questions during the meeting, after the meeting and over the following week. The scariest moment of the time is what questions will parents ask. If you have done your homework, included the items above, been through while staying concise you have less to fear. You NEED to be open and available, parents need to be able to trust you, not being willing to allow for questions makes you look unprepared and suspicious.