Friday, August 21, 2015

3 Big Things Parents Need from Your Church

After twenty years of Children's Ministry, I'm convinced that we don't win as a ministry unless we win with parents.  Why?  Because no one has more influence over the spiritual life of a child than the person who is raising them.

However, that doesn't devalue weekend Children's Ministry.  In fact, I think it raises the stakes.  When it comes to discipling their kids, parents need all the help they can get.  And that's where we come in.

As Children's Ministry leaders we have a unique opportunity to serve our parents by giving them vision, support and encouragement on the journey of spiritually parenting their kids.

Let's break that down a little more and consider a few questions to help you think about how your ministry is doing meeting your parents' greatest needs.

Need #1: A vision for spiritual parenting

Now more than ever, parents need a clear picture of what it looks like to practice discipleship in the home.  Many of us didn't grow up with a good model for spiritual parenting.  We either didn't grow up in the church or had well-meaning Christian parents who weren't active in helping us develop our faith.  Either way, we need help.  We need inspiration.  We need a picture of what it can look like to lead our kids spiritually at home.
  • Do your parents know what it looks like to intentionally parent their kids? 
  • Are there vehicles or venues where you have the chance to communicate to parents God's awesome plan for their family?  
  • Does your senior minister ever teach about godly parenting from the stage?  

Need #2: Support for spiritual parenting

Spiritual parenting is hard, like pull-your-hair-out-curl-up-in-a-corner-and-cry kind of hard.  Every child is different and every home has its own unique challenges.  We can offer support to these parents by providing helpful content, coaching and community opportunities throughout the year.
  • Are you researching and recommending great books, websites and podcasts to your parents?  
  • Do you provide parents with coaching through parent e-mails, live events or one-on-one conversations over coffee? 
  • Does your church offer opportunities to plug into community through small groups, huddles, missional communities or parenting groups?  

Need#3: Encouragement for spiritual parenting

Sometimes parents just need a cheerleader.  They need someone to pump courage into their hearts and to help them hold up their weary heads when the parenting adventure gets hard.  They need someone to remind them that they can do this.  They need someone to remind them that this is God's plan, and He has an amazing future in store if they don't give up.
  • Are you or someone on your team connected relationally with parents and walking with them through the tough seasons of family life?  
  • Do you ever send a card or just pick up the phone when you know a family is struggling?  
Well, how did you do?  Are you meeting all three big needs of parents?  Yeah, me neither.  But don't worry, this is a process.  Pick one area to focus on and pray about one baby step you can take to move in the right direction.

Building a Children's Ministry that earns a parent's trust

If you'd like to dig deeper into this topic, I'd love for you to join me in September at the D6 Conference in Louisville, KY where I'll be leading a breakout called Building a Children's Ministry that Earns a Parent's Trust.  Building trust is the first step in meeting the big three needs of parents.

In this breakout we’ll explore how to make a great first impression, establish credibility and nurture long-term relationships that build bridges between the church and the home. Specifically we’ll talk about how to:
  • Build a ministry that is pro parent. 
  • Create excellence on any budget.
  • Make your weekend experiences safe, fun and powerful.
  • Leverage conflict as an opportunity for relationship. 
  • Go the extra mile with families.
  • Communicate vision in everything you do.
  • Provide resources that matter.
Hope to see you at D6!

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