My Top 5 Ways to Help Parents of Teens – BAPTIST TIMES ARTICLE REPOST

I wrote the following article for the Baptist Times magazine Youth to Truth column, submitted Nov. 16, 2020:


Youth ministry is family ministry, so a good youth pastor will help the parents parent. Sometimes that’s done best by influencing the teen, but a youth pastor that spends ALL his time with teens is neglecting their biggest influence: the parents.

Two other former youth leaders and I did a video called TOP FIVE WAYS TO HELP PARENTS, and here’s what I contributed:



Loving both the teens and the parents is crucial for youth ministry because love makes it about them instead of you. If you’re not careful, youth ministry can become more about being seen as a good youth pastor rather than being one. For example, you serve to get a thank you note; you’re disappointed if no one gets you a Christmas gift; you witness to boost your numbers. I’ve been there and done that. Ministry is not right until loving God and others is your motive.

What can I do in love? A hand-written note, a visit to an incoming 7th grader, a $2 bill in a birthday note—small acts show that it’s a ministry to draw people closer to God… not you.



Among the most loving things a youth pastor can do for parents is to communicate with them about the youth ministry.

Clear communication…

  • Sets expectations. “I have three kids in the youth group… how many activities will cost money this year?”
  • Anticipates questions. “What’s the dress code for…”
  • Builds respect. “Hmm… that youth pastor looks like he’s 12, but read what he says about_______. He’s really thinking about this stuff.”

My communication evolved over the years. I wrote a note to the teens every class, but in 2019 (my last year) I launched a weekly mailing to all our teen families. This included the teen announcement sheets, a note to the parents, sermon summaries, and a few silly pictures, puzzles, and memes.

I wanted our parents to not always be three months behind the trends, so I would recommend books on parenting, websites on app reviews, or articles that instructed parents on how to access their child’s Snapchat and Tik Tok.



We included parents in youth ministry:

  • Actively: including them in activities; having them share their testimony in class.
  • Passively: promoting a parent-inclusive philosophy and perception of the youth ministry.

Your church should understand that teens belong to parents, and not “parents, get out.” Are you actually a place that a parent can drop in on any time, or is that just something you say? Can parents sit in on your class, or would a parent change the tenor of the group? Does the program change or do the jokes change when a parent is around? The youth ministry should be so parent-friendly that any parent can join for any reason at any time.



A parent might be skeptical of a youth pastor with no teens of his own, but a humble, growing leader will be better received than an arrogant know-it-all. Don’t come in with a lot of big ideas to change these wicked ol’ parents and their wicked ol’ teens with their wicked ol’ phones until you’ve shown that you’re willing to change your wicked ol’ heart too.

It wasn’t until after several blunders that I started to learn and grow. Our parents graciously allowed me to lead their teens… despite me. That’s a treasure.



Although youth ministry is family ministry, most of your time is with the teens. So, shepherd them. You’re not the pastor of the church, but your role is to nurture, feed, and help protect those young people. Sometimes shepherding includes playing with them, preaching to them, rebuking them, or serving them, but all of it is in the idea that you are their example.

If your most spiritual boy followed your example, would he be closer to God? If a girl did what your wife does, would she be a biblical lady?

A youth pastor is the extension of his pastor in his exemplary role. I’ve known youth pastors who are fun but not godly. No teen should ever be closer to God than the role model that the church is putting in front of him.



In the video that inspired this article, each of the other youth leaders gave five areas, too. Here are their lists with minimal comment:

Sam (Camp director and former youth leader)

  • I work for the parents and the pastor (philosophy)
  • Communicate directly with the parents (details can be lost on teens)
  • Compliment slow growth (tell the parents something good about their teen)
  • Once a year overview (scope and sequence, activities, etc.)
  • Breakfast with dad (insightful meeting when one-on-one)


Donny (former youth pastor, now pastor)

  • Walk with God (spiritual foundation)
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate (notice each of our #2!)
  • Safety (only takes one mistake to hurt you)
  • Meet with parents regularly (e.g. a parent meeting Sunday school class)
  • Stay (longevity in one place is powerful)