Caring for Parents and Students, The Perfect Event

This idea came out of a conversation at our Life Group Christmas party a couple of weeks ago. When a parent dropped her son off, she commented that the parents don’t know who each other are. As I was reflecting on that comment later that night, I thought, “Let’s do something about that.”When a parent says something like that, it’s an invitation to do something about it. She didn’t say it in an accusing way. It was more of a passing comment about something she would value having.

I decided to pull off an event that would be a natural way for me to hang out with parents… watching their boys have a blast. The event: Ice Blocking! So much fun. The boys slid down a grassy hill while sitting on top of blocks of ice. Between the boys and the blocks of ice was a folded towel.

It became a family event. One of the dads parked his car in a way to shine his headlights on the pitch dark hill. Another dad was at the top of the hill coaching them on how to get the best ride and shining a light on them. He even took a ride down the hill once. Parents were gathered at the bottom of the hill hanging out having a blast watching the fun. One of them even brought snacks for the boys.

We made some great memories. The parents know each other a little better. They have more appreciation of me as their sons’ leader. The boys had a blast and got super tired (another plus in the eyes of the parents).

When we minister to students, we win when we remember part of ministering to them includes reaching out to their families.

I Gave Up and Was Better For It

This one was very difficult for me to do. This year I started over with a new group of Freshmen. Their parents were very cordial and involved, in a healthy way. Several of them offered to send desserts or help out in any way we needed.

I absolutely love making desserts. I actually have a philosophy on the subject. Nothing happens in my Life Group by accident, unless it’s a God-thing. I believe desserts should be amazing and homemade because it may be the only homemade dish a student gets in a week. It also shows a level of caring if it gets dished out into a students bowl by a leader. As the saying goes, “The way to a [student’s] heart is through his stomach.”

I very reluctantly took parents up on their offer. I even setup an online calendar they could sign up on for our weekly desserts… hoping they wouldn’t. They did. I haven’t provided any desserts this year.

One week a parent sent 5 glorious dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts. All of them got eaten. My boys were bouncing off the walls. Sometimes a well-meaning mom will send store bought cookies. That’s not what I would prefer, but the benefit far outweighs the let down.

Here’s why this is the best thing ever: By allowing parents to have some ownership in Life Group, I have a greater opportunity to get to connect with them and know them better. Youth ministry done right includes not just the student, but the family connected to the student. Knowing the families better means I know the students better.