Friday, January 04, 2013

Parents & Teens in the Same Room?...Gasp!

Every year, at least once, we plan a Parents Night in our student ministry for the sole purpose of a shared experience.  Each night, instead of breaking into our small groups (gender & grade specific), we have 2-3 families discuss a few questions that get at the heart of what we're talking about from stage.  So you have parents and students answering the same questions, from different vantage points.

We use XP3's curriculum and some of their series provide this opportunity built in to the series.  We recently did the Picture Perfect parent night - No Perfect Families Allowed.

Here are a few of the things that I've learned, having done these over the past 6 years:

Parents and Students in the same room is a HUGE win!

I believe that any time you get parents and students in a room together and they share an experience together, something great happens.  It's my belief that a 5-minute conversation with a parent can either enhance or completely trump what we've covered in our student ministry environment for a night.  So, to put both parents and students in the same environment is a HUGE win.

This is a great opportunity for Parents to meet Small Group Leaders.

We really talk to our small group leaders about how important this night is to rub shoulders with their students' parents.  Many of our students' families don't come on Sunday mornings, and sometimes, just simply meeting the small group leader gives families a sense of comfort of who they're son or daughter is being influenced by.

We make sure to introduce the Small Group Leaders from stage, and talk about why we do small groups in the first place.  This gives us the opportunity to cast vision about how important this role is for both the small group leader, and the parents.

This is a great night to cast vision.

Aside from the opportunity to talk about why we do small groups, this is great chance to talk about or vision for families (Orange); our vision for high school students to be in serving roles, rather than in a class; and any thing else that's going on.

Some students will come without their parents.

We tell students to come no matter what.  And some do.  And our small group leaders lead those students through the questions, giving some of the parent perspective on these questions.

Normal attendance for students will be down.

To me, this is an ok trade-off.  Some students don't come because their parents can't or don't want to come, even though we try to communicate hard that students should come anyway.  For us, though, the shared experience for the ones that came is a big enough win to offset the down attendance of students.