3 Pathways to Partnering with Parents

We are in the business of helping parents disciple their kids.

Once we get our head around that, it changes the focus of our week. Here’s a quick outline of 3 mindset pathways that we can pursue to make sure we are working with parents and they are working with us…

In a Theology for Family Ministry by Michael and Michelle Anthony, David Keehn, from Talbot Seminary, discusses youth ministry from a family perspective. He suggests we change our mindset and go down these three pathways… read these and consider steps that you can take to move in these directions!

Pathway Mind-Set 1 –Approach the Youth Through the Parents

We must see the student in the greater context of the family. This involves connecting with Parents whenever possible.

When you meet new students arrange to meet to ask parents about the Spiritual Journey of the Family.

Consider all the ways to partner with parents in spiritual formation. Provide resources. Have them over to your house.

Have leaders call the house phone first. If they reach a parent make sure they strike up a conversation and don’t just ask for Johnny.

When parents drop off or pick up their kids, meet them in the parking lot (just don’t get run over!)


Pathway Mindset 2  -View Yourself as a Family Shepherd

Recognize that the family has tremendous impact on whether or not a teenager sticks with faith. Students without family support tend to “drop out following high school graduation.”

Shepherd in partnership with others to facilitate the great goal of spiritually healthy families.

Promote and resource family time. Eating one meal and day and praying together makes a big impact.

Send a weekly email and text blasts to parents to follow up teaching with discussion questions

Encourage families to take a weekly date meal with each of their teens. Have parents take time to listen to their teen.

Facilitate retreats for parents and their teens.


Pathway Mindset 3
Help Parents Celebrate Their Child’s Rites of Passage from Adolescence to Adulthood

David Elkind, child and adolescent expert, wrote years ago that the rites of passage are disappearing in our culture and this damages a teen’s development. Don’t let this happen to your students! Make a big deal about these important milestones in a students life and get the family involved. Or the other way around bring Christ into family celebrations. Be present if possible and help to make it special.

Come alongside families to maximize spiritual impact of rites of passage.

Some of these rites of passage are (depending on your church) Baptism, Confirmation, Purity (dating age), Graduation.

To make the most of these include a time of

  1. preparation (classes, interviews, family meetings)
  2. celebration (party, ceremony in church, grad recognition, a retreat or get away, gift presentation)
  3. challenge (sign a commitment, commission in prayer, include a blessing, sign up for a follow up experience)

Partner With Parents

Later in my ministry I always explained my role as, helping parents disciple their young people. It was an important change of mindset and I often reverted to old ways of doing things instead of taking my ministry in this positive direction. It is best to change our mindset and continue down these 3 pathways. It’s the best place to invest the few hours that we have for ministry each week.

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Ron Powell


Ron Powell is the Adviser to the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for over 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email ron.powell@vanguardcollege.com