What I Learned From Opening Weekend: Part 3

My son’s favorite toy right now is his Exersaucer.  You put him in it and he goes crazy, so many toys within arms reach.  You turn to the right, more toys, you turn to the left more toys, you can stand up and play with them or relax the legs and lean back in the chair.  When my wife first brought the toy home from a local tot swap I was a little hesitant, how was this piece of plastic going to help my son?  But now that I see he is excited to get in it, now that I see that it helping him interact, I’m more than thankful my wife made the purchase.
This past weekend we kicked things off with our programs.  A trend I’ve noticed over the past few years is that opening weekend is the best time to interact with parents.  Many of them are nervous, curious and even a little reluctant to bring their teen to another schedule filler, especially for middle school parents.  To many of them our programs can look like an Exersaucer, with the looming question, “How’s this going to help my teen?”  What we need to do, especially on an opening weekend is have that information clear, presentable and engaging; however, before you start putting together the “World’s Greatest Brochure” consider the following tips.
When a parent approaches you on opening weekend:

  • Learn Their Name – I know that sounds dumb, but how many times have you seen a parent dropping off their team and given them that half smile.  Shake their hand, crack a dumb joke and ask them their name.
  • Engage Them – See if they have questions, then listen.  They may be nervous to ask questions, they may have barriers, so help them break it down.
  • Ask Them To Stay – I know you might be wondering what they are going to think of your game that involves throwing Cocoa Puffs at their child’s face, which is covered with whip cream, but have confidence in your more serious activities, your teaching, your small groups, you know the foundation of  what you do.
  • Get Them Excited For Their Teens – If you believe all you need is the teen to walk in through the door, then your main objective should be to get the parent excited.  When you get the parents pumped up they are not only going to encourage their own children to go but they will be there to cheer them on when they go home.

When my wife brought home the Exersaucer I had no idea how this would help my son.  I’m not saying it’s the ultimate baby teaching tool, but I know it’s helped in his development.  Parents may be looking at your ministry like the exersaucer.  On opening weekend we have the perfect opportunity to give them a more clear and engaging picture.