As children or youth pastors we want to care for the kids/students in our ministry and one theme that has continued to surface over the last decade as we try to do so is “partnering with parents.” While this is a valuable and promising idea and I agree we should move our ministries in that direction, I also wonder if we actually take the time to ask ourselves what that should look like for our ministries and our community. As leaders, we can come up with the next great idea but if that doesn’t actually help our families or meet them where they are then what are we really doing? If we truly want to “partner with parents” then perhaps the best place to start is hearing from the parents.
Taking a survey to find out a few things from your student’s parents is a great place to start. There are, of course, several ways to go about getting feedback but I would suggest not overcomplicating things. If you yourself are not tech savvy then stick with good old-fashioned paper with a few questions that help give you some clarity and a direction to go. If you have a little more technical ability and/or want to step out of your comfort zone and learn something new then go ahead and do a digital survey on a Google form or something similar. If you can send something like this via text it’s even better. People carry their phones everywhere and are more likely to click a link from a text versus going into their email and doing so.
Okay, we have the how but what should you be asking your parents? If the goal is to truly partner with the parents in your ministry then you need to know how to best communicate with them because as we know you need good communication in any healthy relationship. A simple question to include is, “How do you like to receive information?” Then you can give them a few options to choose from like take-home sheets, email, text, social media, etc. Another great question is to ask what they want to receive information about. You don’t want to send them information on things they don’t care to know because they will probably end up ignoring you or unsubscribing. Families are also really busy, so using this survey to gauge your parents’ preferences on how often they would like to participate in events or group meetings outside of Sunday service could be a great addition.
As you are preparing your feedback form for your families, I would say keep in mind the why behind what you are doing. We are not getting information just for the sake of it but the answers you get will ultimately help you shape your ministry to better serve your kids and students because we know that they spend way more time at home than they do with us. If we can bridge the gap between the parents and the leaders then we can better impact the lives of those in our ministry for Christ. The goal is to help kids and students create a lasting relationship with their savior and who better to help us help them than the people who have the greatest influence on their lives, the parents.