Logistics: Parent Involvement

I know some parents scare you. I’ve been in ministry for a while and I know some parents just can’t be pleased, can’t be satisfied, can’t be accommodated. Then, there are the parents you’d like to clone! Those who not only understand your ministry and heart, but cheer you on in your efforts. So, some of my suggestions below might frighten you. Think them through and see if these would be some items the LORD would have you do. Remember, you’re not made in my image, you’re made in the LORD’s image!

One of the things I’ve done over the years to include the parents from the very beginning is to develop a “Parent and Student Agreement” form. Basically, it requires both the student and parents’ signatures and is designed to make sure that everyone understands the pre-trip training and financial requirements. It also helps me to be sure that they’ve received the information about the trips. These forms are handed in with the trip deposit, so parents have seen this long before the student makes a commitment or decision to go on a trip.

Another thing I’ve done is to include parents in some of the training sessions. This one always makes me nervous but I’ve found that the parents who attend are really interested in learning about Listening Pray and the other AIM objectives. However, as the training continues and gets more intense and closer to the departure date, I close off the training sessions in order to foster team intimacy and strength. The best thing that’s happened is that some parents want to start to incorporate Listening Prayer in their own lives. The worst is that some just don’t care. Not too bad of a track record so far.

I was taking a trip to New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. I had two parents go on our Prayer Walk during the training session with their daughter. The coolest thing happened. On that prayer walk the student came to realize what the “voice” of the Holy Spirit sounded like. Her father was right there when it happened and was one of the people who confirmed the daughter’s leading. That girl was lit up like a torch! Her father has been one of my biggest champions since and now he’s an Elder. It was and is a win-win-win situation!

Above all, communicate, communicate, communicate. This is the Mission Leader’s equivalent to the realtor’s location, location, location mantra! I believe you can’t over communicate the information needed for your mission trip. Mail it, put it in the Sunday bulletin, post it on the wall, your web site, PowerPoint, wherever parents will be able to get the information you want them to have. Remember, you are being honored with a parent allowing their child to go with you. Don’t abuse that honor.

When you’re on your trip, set up a phone chain so you can let parents and others know of your progress. I tried to do a texting thing last year on two trips and it was just a pain. Too many people had my number and I got too many questions which just seemed to distract me during the trip. I won’t do it again. And, I don’t let students contact family when they’re away, unless there’s a very unique situation. Students will often poorly communicate what is happening on the trip. Or like the texting, will be so distracted that they can’t focus on the mission they’re on.

Lastly, if you’ve been given the go ahead by church leadership and parents to take kids on a trip, move in confidence. Train well and thoroughly. Prepare travel and on-mission communication well. The best thing you can do to secure parental confidence and support is to have their kids return home light up with the LORD!

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