Everyone who subscribes to my email list to get weekly updates from the blog also receives a specific email from me right after they subscribe. In that email I share the 3 things they can expect from me and 3 things I'd like their help with. One of the things I ask them to do is fill out a short, 5-question reader survey. A recent subscriber asked a great question in that survey.
How do you partner with parents without adding more?
That's a great question. I want to offer up some ideas, but please know I am like most of you, still trying to figure this thing out. We're experimenting all the time. Some things work and other things don't. Here are my thoughts on how we can partner with parents more without adding more programs and events to what we already do.
Communicate Well With Parents
One of the best ways we can partner with parents is to communicate clearly and consistently with them. Just like any relationship, communication is key. What good is all the work we do if many of our parents have no idea what we do and why we do it? Come up with a simple communication plan for parents. Maybe it's a weekly email and 2 posts on a Facebook page. Start simple and let it grow from there.
Orient New Parents
If you're like us, you may provide resources on Sunday for parents to use at home. One trap we can fall into is giving out those resources without ever explaining them to new families. I don't have a perfect answer for this challenge, but one thing we're trying now is a series of on-boarding emails for new families before they're added to our regularly weekly parent email list. The emails are designed to explain what we do, why we do it, and how they can benefit.
Tap Into The Small Group Leader
If you don't have a small group structure for kids and students, this will look different obviously. If you do, you can read this post about my belief that the best partnership we have with parents is the small group leader. Instead of adding a new program, event, or resource, we can equip small group leaders to make a connection with parents. Draft an email for them to send to their parents individually. Text them the phone number of a parent and ask them to text the parent. Carve out time while leaders are serving in their environment to allow them to write a note to a few parents.
Weekly (GoWeekly.com) is a resource created from the great folks at Orange to help family ministry leaders develop their small group leaders and partner with parents in just 2 hours/week. It's basically a yearly plan broken down into a weekly checklist that's emailed to you. Now, you may notice it takes 2 hours a week and that is certainly more. But, this is something you can recruit a volunteer to lead and with some work on the front-end, you can hand it off completely.
I hope those ideas are helpful, but what would really be helpful is if you would share some of your thoughts in the comments below. We're in this together and I don't think any of us feels like we have it figured out. So, let's share what's working and what's not so we can go further, faster.
If you're interested in Weekly, here's a video about it.
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/142171511 width=800 height=500]