As a parent, I’m constantly thinking about what my kids need (more often than not because they are asking for the 90th snack of the day and I’m trying to determine if their little bellies can actually hold one more pack of fruit snacks.)
It’s no surprise that Pew Research found that 56% of churchgoers indicated strength of children’s education opportunities as a deciding factor as to if they would attend. It’s also important to remember many of these people who were surveyed don’t have kids in their home, so I’d expect the number to be much higher among parents.
Whether your church has a family minister who is focused on synergy between ministry to kids and ministry to parents, your children’s ministry team handles the parenting side as well, or you are just beginning to think about how to minister to parents and equip them to disciple their kids in their home, here are six questions to consider:
1. Does your church have a holistic view of kids ministry and parenting/family ministry?
Don’t forget that the parents within your church’s ministry live inside the same home as the kids in your church’s ministry. A cohesive plan doesn’t mean that parents and kids have to be studying the same things at the same time or that parents should only be in classes for parents. Instead, if multiple staff members are assigned to family ministry (kids ministry, youth ministry, adult ministry, or overarching family ministry), work through strategy together. Even if you only have one of the staff members listed, thinking through the lens of family ministry as a whole is wise. While we are on the topic of holistic views, don’t forget those who are in generations without kids in the home. Giving them opportunities to partner with families and provide wisdom is a valuable resource!
2. What processes are in place to promote and train parents in Biblical literacy and theology?
We want parents to feel comfortable teaching their kids, but I often hear that parents don’t know where to begin or how to have spiritual conversations. Offering classes, recommending resources, and creating opportunity to be in community with other parents where they can learn the Bible and ask hard questions is a must, not just for the purpose of discipling kids but for the purpose of personal growth and commitment to Christ.
3. What are you doing to train and support parents, as well as build community around them?
Helping parents know what to say or teach to their kids is only the beginning. There are many different methods that can work to train and support parents and build a strong community for them. Choose the ones that work for you, but do have a plan. Ask parents what they need and provide solutions like these:
- Consider training teachers who work kids each week in building relationships with parents so that they might ask questions about discipleship at home and be a resource for parents.
- Send home a weekly sheet that parents can work through with their child. Host parenting meet-ups or trainings often.
- Challenge older couples in the church to “adopt” a young family.
4. What are you saying from the pulpit to encourage families to do discipleship at home?
Vision often starts within a church from the guidance of the pastor. Help parents catch the vision that they are the primary discipler of their children. Communicate the responsibility and blessing of it, and provide opportunities for training. Helping parents be equipped to lead their children also means shepherding them toward Jesus well so that they may have growing, healthy relationships with Him, and may lead from the overflow of what He is doing in their hearts.
5. How are you teaching and modeling that raising “good” kids is not the goal, but raising godly kids is?
We are so good at encouraging kids to behave, but what does it look like to move them to godliness? Help parents know the difference between raising well-behaved “good” kids and raising godly kids, and encourage them to seek the latter. When we focus less on behavior modification and more on what’s going on in the heart of a child, we can show them Jesus rather than merely showing them the correct way to act.
6. What resources are you promoting to parents to help them be godly parents?
There is no shortage of great resources to help parents lead their children well. Provide a list of these via a weekly email to parents or a hand out that goes home with kids every couple of weeks. There are many, but I pulled together some of the top ones in this set of resources that I hope will help.
Mary Wiley is a wife, mom of two, and women’s books marketing strategist at B&H Publishing Group. She is passionate about helping women (and especially moms) know and love the truth of Scripture, allowing it to transform all of life. She has served as a children’s minister and kids curriculum writer for The Gospel Project and other resources. She hosts the Questions Kids Ask podcast, equipping parents to answer the tough theological questions that their kids ask.