The short answer? A hearty yes! But it pays to understand the pros and cons of parent volunteers. No matter what size ministry you operate, you can find a place for a pair of willing hands. Let’s start with the positives, recognize the possible negatives and then move on to how to lead parent volunteers.
The Positive Points
Kids behave for parents. Sometimes, I think the children I teach consider me a “friend” or a “pal.” Let’s face it–it’s difficult to take someone seriously when you’ve seen them dressed as a giant chicken or wearing a Mario mustache. A parent’s presence can sometimes encourage good behavior.
You get to experience the family dynamic. As a pastor, it helps to see the big picture, how families interact with one another. When parents volunteer, you’ll have that opportunity.
Parents get to see their child in a new environment, interacting with others. That’s helpful for parents who tend to worry about their child’s development or how the child is accepted into the group.
Most parents easily accept, love and nurture children besides their own. That’s a plus!
The Negative Points
Some parents want to discipline their child immediately when he’s caught breaking rules. It can be difficult for some parents to relinquish the role of disciplinarian to you, even briefly.
A parent can have ulterior motives for volunteering. I won’t elaborate here, but sadly, it’s the truth. Not everyone who raises their hand to help truly wants to help.
You may have to explain your ministry’s vision in great detail and repeat it often. Sometimes parents want to help but they aren’t sure what that really means. It’s hard to explain to some folks that children’s ministry is more than remembering to bring snacks and counting crayons after class. Even though the parent probably doesn’t want or need to understand the ins and outs of ministry, it’s good for them to know where you all are headed.
Things to Remember
It’s a good idea to ask parents to volunteer for a specific amount a time, like a month or three months. That makes it easier to move volunteers around when you need to.
Have realistic expectations. Remember she volunteered to help you, not take over your class. Don’t ask volunteers to tackle big tasks like teaching unless they’ve been properly trained and express an interest in doing so.
Enjoy the new relationship. When you serve in ministry together, you experience some amazing things. Cherish those shared memories and experience!