***This is an article that is written for Parents/Families of youth to increase the value of your church’s youth ministry to your family. Youth Workers – if you find any truth in what I write here please share with your group.***
As a youth minister it is kind of important for me to constantly be learning about how I can improve things, and I do so on a regular basis. There are often areas of ministry where I feel like (or get told) I need to improve.
One particular area that I have been seeking to improve is Communication.
If you are looking for advice on Youth Ministry Communication you certainly find a lot of ways to communicate with parents, including some articles written on why you should communicate with youth and their parents in the first place.
However I have noticed that all these articles and ways of improvement are lacking.
Because ALL of them perpetuate a communication model that looks like this picture.
But really we all know on some level that communication is a two way street. For me to get better at communication I have to acknowledge and teach the other side of the coin. So if you are not having a Conversation with your youth director you are wasting your youth ministry.
Some of you may be having a conversation already and that is awesome. You should keep reading.
When is the conversation happening?
A Youth Worker is starting a conversation every time they send an e-mail, a text, a tweet, or a Facebook post. Each and every time a communication method is used it is an invitation to participation in a conversation. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t @tagged on the post.
It doesn’t matter if the email or text went to more than one person, that information was prepared and sent to you as a parent because they want to tell that to you.
Youth Workers do not make newsletters for the sake of sending something out, it is for the sake of telling people about something they should know about, take action on, or respond to.
These forms of communication are not effective if they are simply a broadcast. The only way to have a conversation is to respond to what was said. Your response can be as simple as signing up for an event, or as complicated as writing a 6,000 word email.
You as a parent are also welcomed and encouraged to begin the dialogue. We are on the same team; we want what is best for your child and your family. If you have a concern about your child we as youth workers are a resource to help you. Even if you are not “concerned” about your child, it helps us to know what is going on in the student’s life.
What is NOT helpful
- It does not help to tell the youth worker all the things you think they have done wrong.
- It does not help to tell the youth pastor your opinion on their outfit.
- It does not help to say why your child’s extracurricular activities win over going to church when there is a conflict.
- We care about your child, extracurricular activities are cool. When we can we will go to an event and support your child. However we will almost always disagree on which should be the priority when a schedule conflict arises.
Most of all, it is not helpful if we never hear from you at all. Say something, start a conversation, or continue one.
What IS helpful
- It is helpful for us to know what events your child plans to (or not to) participate in.
- It is helpful for us to know if your child gets sick or injured.
- It is helpful for us to know if things we are teaching are or are not showing up in your student’s life outside church.
- It is helpful for us to understand your expectations of a youth pastor in general so long as you understand that our expectations may be different yet we are still working toward the same goal:
Helping your child to be able to stand on a faith that they have made their own to the point that their faith has a positive impact on their daily life.
In the end for us to have a positive impact in your child’s life or the life of your family it requires a relationship. A relationship does not exist when communication only goes one way. So please do not waste your church’s youth ministry, or your youth worker for that matter. Engage in a conversation with your youth pastor.