Parental Evangelism

There is a new thought rolling around in my head these days and it is about reaching out to parents. I am absolutely terrible at this. In my original confessions article that was one of the things that I admitted. I am horrendous at reaching out to parents. One of the reasons if I am honest is that if parents don’t care about the spiritual well being of their children enough to be in church I am mad at them.

Of course that is a terrible attitude to have. I can’t be mad at lost people for acting like lost people. But I digress. I have come to realize looking over the new face of my group that without integrating parents into the church along with teenagers your youth ministry can never be healthy. Teenagers who are involved in church without their parents will eventually find reasons for not coming. Many teenagers see that their parents don’t come to church so as they get older church is one more thing that they have to grow out of and coming to church is one more thing that they think is for "little kids."

I know in our group as students have gotten their license and don’t need to come to church to see friends anymore, that the ones who’s parents don’t attend have a much higher drop out rate than those who do, even if they student was a growing and fruit bearing Christian.

So for the first time, and I know I am coming to this late, and I should have seen it before, but for the first time I have made the connection between parental evangelism and youth group growth. I have always known that bringing in parents will help the church to grow, but a light has gone off in my head and I finally see that parental evangelism will cause the youth ministry to grow as well.

And let’s face it youth pastors, that is why we do anything new because we want our groups to grow.

4 thoughts on “Parental Evangelism

  • October 10, 2005 at 9:20 AM
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    So, is it your responsibility, the pastor’s responsibility, or both to really reach out to the parents and hold them accountable for coming to church regular. How does this play out, practically?

    I ask because I made the same realization you did a while back and I’m still clueless as to how to actually carry it out.

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  • October 10, 2005 at 5:02 PM
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    The responsibility is on everyone in your church, but that doesn’t really help practically either.One of the problems with reaching out to parents yourself is that unless you have teenagers yourself you aren’t their peers. There needs to be some way that you use the existing youth parents as a force to reach out to the ones who aren’t coming.In a perfect world the Sunday school class that the parents in your church belong too would take responsibility, but that probably ain’t happening. Of course it may be because they don’t know who’s kids are coming. I just thought of sending a report to those SS classes and seeing what they will do with them. Probably they won’t do anything, which means that we are back to the main problem.On a rerun of West Wing I heard the president say, “It isn’t our job, but there is no one else who can do it.” So that is what I am saying to you youth pastors out there. It isn’t your job, but if you want to see real life change in the lives of students you are going to have to evangelize their parents.

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  • October 11, 2005 at 11:45 AM
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    You don’t know what will work until you try.

    I think you’ve done the first part, realizing that the parents have to get on track. You wouldn’t be helping your students if you didn’t make an effort to see that that happened. What can you do to help the parents without leaving behind the student?

    Make a list. Get a list of parents who don’t come to church, but their kids do. Maybe visitation is old fashioned but there’s got to be something. Get the adult class involved.

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  • October 13, 2005 at 12:07 PM
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    I like Andrew’s idea, good old-fahioned visitation. Or, we’d call it a “modified FAITH visit.” Discuss with them how glad you are that their son/daughter is coming to functions, inquire as to whether they feel that there is more that you could be doing to minister to them and their family, invite them to come sometime.

    I think the hardest thing to do is to make an outsider feel welcome. You have to have some non-threatening environment for the parent to attend, or they never will. Even having a welcoming, inviting Sunday School class isn’t enough most times. The new person is still, well, the “new person.” They feel like an outsider. Try to hold an even that either makes EVERYONE an outsider, or EVERYONE and insider, but the two don’t mix. Such as, invite all the parents of the youth to a planning/informational type of event, and offer food. Parents like to be involved in the lives of their kids for the most part, especially at the teen years when the kids try to pull away and become secretive. Have a fundraiser for a group trip, a bake sale, a car wash, something that would get the parents involved. Target the dads. Statistically, if the dad is involved in church, the whole family is as well. Not so much for the moms for some reason. Have a father/son day, or a mother/daghter day, or even mix it up for a father/daughter or mother/son day, and have activities planned.

    Getting ANYONE involved in a church family is hard, but from my perspective, I’d look at those parents that aren’t coming as GREAT prospects, you already have an ‘in’ with them, their kids are coming anyway. Instead of looking at it as a negative that kids are coming without their parents, look at it as a positive that you have a great reason to talk to a family about Christ.

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