We often talk about kid-friendly churches and we often talk about reaching the parents of the kids in our ministries.
Therefore, parent-friendly churches seems to be a natural goal.
But what does that look like?
- A friendly person stationed at the door. You need someone who can comfortably introduce himself and start a conversation with the parent. The friendly-door person can also walk the parents and kids to the appropriate classroom and answer any questions along the way. (Which means you might need two friendly people at the door, so the first one doesn’t need to cut a conversation short to get back to the door.)
- Literature about your church children’s ministries. List everything for kids … and your philosophy of children’s ministry. Don’t forget the Mom’s Bible Study with kids’ classes or the children’s choir or the mid-summer carnival.
- Bathrooms that are clean! Sometimes the bathroom is the first room a parent sees when visiting a new church. Parents often take their children “one last time” before dropping them off at class. Unfortunately we’ve all seen some skuzzy church bathrooms. Make clean bathrooms a priority.
- Activities at the beginning of your class time so parents see more than a bunch of out-of-control kids running around.
- Welcoming classrooms designs. Even though your church might not have a lot of money in the budget, you can play peppy music (Awana has a lot of great kids’ music available), decorate the walls with kids’ drawings or a mural and have the lights on!
- Leaders/teachers who arrive early. Be firm about teachers/leaders getting there 15 minutes early. (Yes, sometimes people have to get there late because of job responsibilities, but make sure you have at least a few leaders present.) Nothing says, “we aren’t organized” like parents taking their kids to a dark, empty classroom with no adults in sight.
- Security measures in place. Let parents know that you won’t allow a child to go with someone not on the child’s “approved” list and then stick by that standard. Let parents know someone on the child’s list must come to the door to pick up their child – you will not allow young children to go to the parking lot themselves. Let parents know that you don’t allow kids to wander around the church.
- First aid kits present (and know what “legal” medical aid you can give. For instance, I directed a state-licensed preschool and we could wash and bandage a child’s cut, but we were not allowed to apply any medication – that was the law.)
- Communication between you and the parent. Does your church have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Children’s Ministry blog? Let your parents know what’s happening, what the kids are learning, what questions they can ask their child about the lesson.
- Opportunities given to help – (but don’t allow parents to work with any kids, but their own unless they have had a background check and have been through required training.)
- Invitation to sit through a club.
- Let the parents know that you are there to support them as they spiritually nurture their children.