I have spent some of my morning quiet time today in one of those moments wishing I knew then what I know now about children’s ministry. I can’t go back, but I can definitely go forward with more effectiveness.
When I started in children’s ministry, parents strangely enough were not even part of the picture. I thought if the ministry had fun games, good volunteers, and decent preaching then my job was a success. Since then I’ve learned this is only a small piece of what a great children’s ministry is all about.
Raising up a generation of world changers requires more than just great programs for kids. An often too overlooked ingredient to a successful ministry is setting parents up to win at home.
Here are some idea that have helped me partner with parents:
1. First start with the belief that parents can do the job God has given them.
In Deuteronomy 6:4-8 God places the responsibility of being a child’s primary faith influencers in the hands of their parents. God hasn’t asked parents to do something He hasn’t made them to do. Partnering with parents starts with this: parents are the single biggest influencers in their kids’ lives. We have a greater chance of success when the family and the church work together.
2. Be mindful of parents when scheduling.
I have never seen yet a time when a child could drive themselves to church. Kids aren’t as independent as junior high or high schoolers either. They need their parents to drive them places and pay for everything (this is in part why most children’s ministry budgets are funded more by the church than another ministry, kids don’t make the money). Make sure you’re not draining your parents’ resources when you set a calendar. How can we expect parents to live out what we’re communicating when we’ve got them out every night of the week or asking for their money around every corner?
3. Communicate all the time in many ways.
Parents benefit from regular communication pieces from you to keep them in the loop on everything that is going on in your ministries. It doesn’t matter if you use email, blogging, Facebook, twitter, snail mail, texting or a white board outside of each of your check-in places. Just get it out to them and do it consistently.
4. Stay in it for the long haul.
Here is one that probably took me the longest amount of time to learn the value of. Trust takes time. The longer you are around the more chances you have to build credibility with the families in your church. Unless God is specifically calling you someplace else resist the urge to move on to “greener pastures” and work to build roots where you are at.
5. Have great stuff for their kids
Last but not least, is to help invoke interest to the things of God. Some items I have noticed over the years that great children’s ministries usually involve are:
* Small groups for community building since we live in a time that kids no longer attend the same schools or hang out in the same communities.
programming with your oldest boys in mind
* Always keeping kid culture in front of all those who are investing in the lives of the kids.
* Fun and humor. Yes these are 2 ingredients that probably more emphasis should be put on than in any other ministry. Play is a child’s work.
6. Resource the plan you put together
Every good children’s ministry has a plan for developing Christ-likeness (this is what I work with children’s pastors in through coaching). Give parents a plan, show them how to use it, and give them tools to work with during the week. There are great books, curriculums, podcasts, blog, articles, and technology like YouTube to show and offer videos made by you to help parents in various areas.
There’s a great movement in the country now that is helping to reshape the way we minister to kids, parents, and families. There has never been a greater time to make a larger impact in helping families to truly become “World Changers”.
How does your ministry show you are partnering with the family?
What will be something created to take your parental involvement to the next level?