Parents play a vital role in the faith development of a child. We all recognize that. Whether or not those parents are Christians, they are key influencers and we need to both recognize and support that. So how do you communicate to parents?

With any communication strategy, it’s essential to figure out how people  receive communication. You need to understand how parents best receive information. Some are good with large group gatherings. Others prefer a quick text. Some like to get an email while others prefer a one-on-one conversation. There is no “one size fits all” strategy.

Secondly, figure out what exactly do you want to communicate. Many times, when I’ve talked with youth leaders, parent communication translates to “here’s all the information you need to know about what’s happening.” Bulletin board news is helpful. (We’ll get to other elements in a moment.) But it can’t be a constant avalanche (BTW, Avalanche retreat registration is now open) of information. Space out what’s vital and decide when is best to send it out. You can have a space (e.g. webpage or Facebook group) where everything is accessible. But deliver small packages of information, because details get lost in the mix when huge boxes of information are sent out.

Parent communication can’t be limited to just announcements about what’s happening at youth group. What other elements would your parents appreciate? This entails you understanding where parents are at and what kinds of support they need. Part of that communication strategy is to identify ways to address those felt needs—whether it’s online articles, book recommendations, training events or a small group support—then passing that information on to them.

The common denominator between parents and youth leaders are the youth. So talk about them (almost like a parent-teacher interview but not as structured). In an above-board fashion, share what you’ve noticed about their children, especially if it’s something worth celebrating. Find out from parents what they’ve noticed at home and what you should be aware of. You can include students in those conversations as well.

Above all, find ways to encourage them. Perhaps with the parent who prefers in-person conversations, book a lunch appointment and listen to their story. If a parent prefers getting text messages, send them text from time to time to let them know that you’re thinking and praying for them.

With Gen Z changing what youth ministry is, their parents are probably feeling that pressure too. Continue to find ways to come alongside them and keep that communication channel open.

What else would you add to this list?