Helping Parents Win
Recently, several big storms rolled through my town with lots of thunder and lightning. They frightened my youngest son, Daniel, producing some traumatic emotions in him.
As I listened to my husband comfort Daniel as he tucked him into bed amid the loud booms and rain hitting the window, I sat in awe. Instead of the usual platitudes we sometimes share, “It will be OK” and “It’s nothing to worry about . . .”, my husband took the opportunity to point Daniel back to God and His creativity and power, sharing how strong and mighty Jesus is.
It was a small but important opportunity to point Daniel to Jesus amid the circumstances of daily life. I also wondered how many parents miss opportunities like this, not because of a lack of desire but because they just don’t know how. I’m beginning to see that this is an area where we as children’s ministry workers have an awesome responsibility and opportunity to help parents develop their children’s spiritual lives.
On average, a child will participate in our Sunday-morning lesson environment for about 40 hours annually. By contrast, parents have an estimated 3,000 hours with their children each year—approximately 8 hours a day.
Clearly, parents have the most opportunity to make the greatest impact in their children’s spiritual lives. But although many parents want to, they don’t know how to provide that direction. So I’m attempting to shift some of my Sunday morning lesson-plan focus for children onto how I can support their parents. I want to provide a springboard for them to talk with their kids about God throughout the week, readying them to point to Him during the little moments of daily life.
I recently had the opportunity to attend the Orange Conference in Atlanta, where I sit in a breakout entitled “When Parent’s Win,” led by Mike Clear, director of Children’s Strategy at the reThink Group.
Mike reminded us that parent’s “will never really believe they matter to us [children’s ministry leaders] if they don’t really matter to us. So let’s be for every parent.”
For too long, parents have not been a part of my children’s ministry strategy. So I’m beginning to ask myself and pray through the following questions.
- How can I help connect parents with positive influences like mentor parents, other parents at the same phase of life and family seminars/events, so that they don’t feel so alone?
- How can I help provide shared-faith experiences for parents and kids? What kinds of milestone events have I built into my ministry?
- How does my one hour a week with kids in children’s ministry provide the most benefit for parents to talk about spiritual matters with their children during the rest of the week?
- How do I come alongside the natural rhythms of a family’s life to help them re-engage with church at different phases during the year? For example, the fall is often full of new beginnings for families as kids go back to school. How does church stay or become part of that new rhythm? How can we connect with families in the New Year as everyone is looking for a restart? How do we help families recharge over the summer but still stay connected?
- What types of resources can I provide to help them talk about critical issues with their kids?
I don’t have answers to all these questions yet, but I’m looking forward to working through them and wrestling with the tension of priorities they bring to my children’s ministry.
How are you doing in partnering with parents? I’d love to start a conversation and share ideas with you on this topic. Feel free to comment on this blog post or on the cmalliancekids’ Facebook page to keep this conversation going.
What a great article! I appreciate your thoughts and wonderful vision the Lord has led you to. I, too, am a Children’s Director/Pastor. I have only been in my position for a year but has quickly realized that partnering with parents is essential to the ministry. We are not only teaching children about Christ, but also coming along side of the parents to say these are your children, it is your responsibility to lead them in their faith, and we promise to walk along side you every step of the way. As you said, there needs to be specific pathways to set the parents up for success so they can easily follow up on what has been taught at church each week. I look forward to hearing more.