Creating A Plan for Communicating with Parents

This article was written by Anthony Hunt, a ministry leader and guest writer for the INCM Blog.

As a leader in children’s ministry, you work hard to provide valuable programming and information to families to support the spiritual formation of their kids.

And yet, it sometimes seems like transmitting that valuable information to parents is an uphill battle. 

How are we supposed to cut through the noise of communication in a parent or caregiver’s life to truly partner with them as they point their kids toward Jesus?

How can your parent communication stand out amidst the 121 emails that people receive each day, on average? (Not to mention a bombardment of texts, social media posts, marketing messages, etc.) 

Truth is – if I’m really honest – I often find that my communication with parents is reactive and spontaneous

  • “Quick! Our event registration opens tomorrow, we probably need to send an email to parents.” 
  • “Hmm…I haven’t posted on our social media account in a while, what should I post in the next 20 minutes?” 
  • “Oops, I totally forgot to partner with parents as they prepared for ‘back to school’ season. Maybe I’ll remember next year.”

With everything going on in the whirlwind of Sunday-to-Sunday ministry, it’s difficult to find the time to invest in effective parent communication.

As a result, far too many churches lack a long-term, intentional, holistic parent communication plan.

Good news! You can learn from my mistakes and use the following “best practices” to build out your parent comms plan for the next calendar year. Hallelujah!

Here are 6 tips to help you create a communication plan that gets the word out and leaves the stress behind.

1. Consider Your Audience

In his book 4 Chair Discipling, author Dann Spader makes the case that disciple-making is a process of moving people through four “chairs”, from someone seeking to know more about Christ to someone who makes disciples themselves.

  1. Chair 1 = seekers
  2. Chair 2 = believers
  3. Chair 3 = workers in a harvest field
  4. Chair 4 = fully trained, reproducing disciple-makers

Let’s apply that same concept to parents on a journey to become sanctified spiritual leaders of their families. 

  1. Chair 1 = unaware of the spiritual calling of parents
  2. Chair 2 = inspired to be spiritual leaders of their kids
  3. Chair 2 = intentional in discipling their kids
  4. Chair 4 = effective in reproducing their kids into disciple-makers themselves

As I looked honestly at the parents I was pastoring, I realized that many were in chairs 1 and 2, yet most of my communication to them presumed they were already “chair 4 parents”.

While parents needed to be led in personal growth and practical advice (“shallow end” content, so to speak), I was providing resources and communication in the theological “deep end”. 

2. Ensure Your Message Meets Felt Needs

Kara Powell, leader and researcher with the Fuller Youth Institute, once said, “Does your church help parents win or does it help parents help your church win? Are we committed to what matters to them? When what’s important to them is important to you, they know you’re on their team.”

Ensure your parent communication provides value to the family in their season of life.

Start with the “why” in what you communicate. 

Instead of leading with information about your church, program, or event, try starting with “why it matters” for the parents and their kids. 

Consider the biggest needs of parents, both practically and spiritually.

Speak their language and resonate with their point of view.

Meet them where they are.

3. Diversify Your Platforms

Consider how your message can extend past a single method of transmission. 

  • Handouts in classrooms, emails, and social media can all be used in sync to convey important messages. 
  • Utilize video and audio messages.
  • Short-form and long-form content. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Start small and scale fast.

See what produces the highest level of engagement and keep rolling with it.

4. Diversify Your Message

My default tendency is to utilize the same template for parent communication, for the sake of efficiency and simplicity. In doing so, I neglect several key components of effective communication.

An effective parent comms plan involves a blend of inspiration and information, celebration and challenge, high-level vision, and in-the-weeds practicality.

Consider the 5 C’s of communication from Giant Worldwide.

In your parent communication, what type of communication do you default to and what type isn’t as natural?

  1. Clarify: providing parents with the info they need
  2. Care: showing love and support to parents
  3. Celebrate: highlighting what God is doing in your church
  4. Collaborate: partnering with parents to make things better
  5. Critique: lovingly calling parents to more

5. Repeat Your Message

Consistency is key.

Marketing experts remind us that people need to hear a message three times before it can truly stick.

Vision has the tendency to leak.

While we live and breathe our ministry strategy, parents need consistent opportunities to learn our values and have them reinforced over time. 

In other words, don’t rely on the age-old excuse of, “I told them once already, they should know that.”

In some ways, there is no such thing as “over-communication”.

Especially when it comes to your ministry’s vision and values.

Once you’re sick of saying it, parents might just be starting to hear it. 

6. Make a Communication Plan for the Entire Year

One of my favorite planning meetings of the year is something I do every October: a day-long planning session for the year to come.

A big part of this meeting is the parent communication plan. 

By proactively sketching out your high-level communication plan for parents, from January to December, you can be way ahead of the game.

Your future self will thank you.

Creating a plan for the full year allows you to intentionally build in reminders to write content throughout the year at strategic points.

Set reminders and then free up your mind for other tasks.

This type of advance planning allows you to be flexible as your parent communication needs change throughout the year.

Here is an example copy of a parent communication calendar, including key ministry events, holidays, and important dates in the calendar.

Feel free to use this as a starting point and add in as much detail as you’d like for your own parent communication plan.

The high-level plan will keep you on track and ensure parents are receiving consistent, effective messaging from you to keep them engaged with your ministry.

Note: Many of your key strategic events might need a communication plan on their own.

As you create your annual parent comms plan, here are some filters of content to think through and consider including:

  • What are kids learning at church? 
  • What felt needs of parents can you address?
  • What church events/engagement opportunities are available?
  • What life events are occurring for families throughout the year?
  • What calendar events/holidays are occurring throughout the year?

You’ve Got This! 

Take one small step today to grow in your intentionality in this area. It’s worth it!


About Anthony

Anthony serves as the Lead Kids Pastor at Traders Point Christian Church, a multisite church with 6 campuses in Indianapolis, IN. Once a former sales/marketing professional with Coca-Cola, he has spent nearly a decade in Children’s Ministry. Anthony holds a Master of Arts degree in Practical Theology & Organizational Leadership. You can connect with him at [email protected].

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