Every year, half my group moves on into high school and I get a new batch of incoming 7th graders. And with them come parents who are just as unsure about their student’s new surroundings as the students are (sometimes more). And it’s up to me to quickly acclimate them to our Middle School culture and what they can expect from me as a leader for the next 2 years.
To accomplish that, I’ve developed (with some help from my homie Nick) the 30 Minute Interview. It’s a quick and (somewhat) painless chance for me to get across from new students and parents in a (somewhat) non-threatening way.
It’s basically 15 minutes with the parent(s) and then 15 minutes with the student. It’s nothing too elaborate; but it serves the purpose of me getting to share a little of my heart and them getting to share a little of theirs.
And ultimately, this time is for the parents; many of whom I’ve never met before in my life. And this is one of the ways to show them that we are in this together and that I care about their role in my world. I’ve come up with a list of questions that I like to draw from while I’m meeting with the parent(s). It keeps them sharing their hearts as well as cuts down on “So, uh…..” time. Here they are in no order whatsoever:
-What’s been __________ involvement in church/youth group up to this point?
-How does __________ feel about what we do?
-What do you pray/dream for ___________ for the upcoming school year? Beyond that?
-Is there anything I should know that would help me in my ministry with __________?
-What are ___________ strengths? Weaknesses?
-Where/How do you see __________ fitting into our group?
-How does _________ interact with people?
-Who are _________ friends?
-How can I be praying for you as parents and for ____________ as we begin our 2 year-long journey together?
Now, in 15 minutes, I can’t get to every one of those questions. But I’ve found that if there’s one thing that parents love to talk about, it’s their kids. So by giving them a chance to talk about them shows them that I’m not just all about my programs and what I can get from them. You also get some great insight into the lives of the people that you’ll be investing in for the next 2 years (if you’re Middle School/Jr. High).
If you don’t have something like an interview in place for incoming students into your group, I would encourage you to put something in place. It has worked really well here (into Middle School and into High School) and makes the transition a lot less of a stresser on the family.