Are you a “Children’s” Pastor or Director leading a “Children’s” Ministry, but with a heart for reaching families? Do you understand that parents are the primary spiritual influencers in their children’s lives, but are in a church which has (and wants to keep) a more traditional “Children’s Ministry”?
I talk with leaders all the time who feel somewhat trapped in this type of scenario. While the world of Children’s Ministry is having many conversations about “Family Ministry”, they feel stuck. What I tell them is that it’s ok! Why? Because of something I’ve been saying for nearly 20 years:
Children’s Ministry IS Family Ministry and Family Ministry IS Children’s Ministry!
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Then I try and share with them that, within a more “traditional” Children’s Ministry, there are tons of things we can do to serve our families and do Family Ministry without calling it “Family Ministry”.
Here are just a few ideas:
1. Educate yourself. In order to truly understand what parents and families need from church we’ve got to understand a few other things first, like:
- The Biblical role of parents and the church in a child’s life
- The vision/position of the church leadership toward parents/families (so we can keep our ministry aligned)
- What is happening now in your ministry that you can build on toward investing in parents & families
2. Cast vision for investing in parents & families. Don’t expect anything to happen with parents/families if there really isn’t a vision for it. Even if it’s a vision currently only held within Children’s Ministry, you’ve got to cast it to:
- Core leaders
- Other staff
- Senior leadership
3. Build relationships. We say it over and over here on this blog: Ministry always happens best within the context of relationship. This is true with ministry to parents/families, as well, so build those relationships by:
- Modeling what relational ministry looks like
- Equipping your team to build relationships with parents and whole families (not just kids!)
- Creating opportunities beyond service times for relationships to be initiating and nurtured
4. Connect what’s happening in the church with what’s happening in the home. Children’s Ministries as a whole need to get more creative in communicating and connecting what’s happening at church with conversations at home. To some extent, it’s up to parents to want to have these conversations, but we need to be more proactive in trying to encourage them.
- Be creative in finding ways to make sure those take home materials really matter and get looked at
- When parents have these materials and actually look at them, make sure they’re easy to follow so the conversations are easy to have
- Find creative and fun ways for families to “report back” and share stories about the conversations they’re having at home
5. Equip parents. You don’t have to have a “Family Ministry” department to equip parents. If Children’s Ministry is Family Ministry and Family Ministry is Children’s Ministry, then it should be happening no matter what your ministry is called.
- Speak the language of vision (see point #2) based on a real, defined vision for reaching and equipping parents/families
- Create parent mentoring or small group opportunities – maybe connect parents of older kids with parents of younger kids…get creative!
- Be sure to offer varied and regular equipping opportunities. Parenting enews letters, tips on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterst (yes, your young parents are on there!), quarterly classes, special speakers, seminars, etc.