How to Get More Parents to Parent Events

Kara Powell

"Why is it that when I hold a parent event, only a few parents come?”

We at FYI get asked this almost every time we speak about Sticky Faith and the importance of youth ministries and parents partnering together to impact teenagers.

Usually my first response after someone asks that question is, “And isn’t it true that the 10-20% of parents who show up are the ones who are already the most dialed in to your ministry and their own children and could be presenting the training themselves?”

Heads nod all around the room.

It seems to me that there are a lot of reasons parents don’t come:  they’re busy, maybe they feel like their kids are already in high school so it’s too late, or perhaps previous parent training events haven’t been that helpful.

But here’s one that I think is more common than we might think:  we as leaders don’t promote them as well as we could and should.  We assume that if we send out one (or maybe two) letter(s) or e.mail(s), the job of promotion is done. 

That’s why I was so encouraged by a recent e.mail from a student ministry pastor when I asked him how their team was going to be promoting an upcoming “How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex” parent training event in which I was going to be speaking.  Here is the list of ways they are promoting that event at their church:

  • Announcements in the worship folder at worship services for four weeks.
  • Separate parent e.mails/newsletters to preteen, junior high, and high school just about this event.
  • The weekly children’s ministry parent e-newsletter will highlight the training.
  • Announcements and flyers will be in every adult Sunday School class this week and sent home with kids as well.
  • The paid staff will be blogging about it a week ahead of time.
  • The church’s Facebook page will promote the event the 10 days prior.
  • All of the paid staff are going to contact 6-8 parents and ask them to contact 10 more parents, inviting them to the event.

I love how this student ministry team is being so proactive.  I know other teams that have even involved students in the process of inviting parents to events, texting students so they will remind their parents.  I know another church that had a big balloon display at church the Sunday morning of their parent training to remind those parents who intended to go to training but once they arrived at church, they slipped into their normal patterns and went to the worship service instead.

How else have you tried to get the word out to parents about parent events so you could more fully partner with them?

Published Mar 15, 2012
Kara Powell

Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. As a youth ministry veteran of over 20 years, she serves as an Advisor to Youth Specialties. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women You Should Know", Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including Sticky Faith, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.

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