We say it often because we really want to emphasize it:
We strongly believe that God has ordained parents as the primary teachers and disciplers of their children. The church is to strengthen and assist parents in this mission (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
What this “looks” like in each local church may differ, but at the very least it requires some strategic intentionality and practical assistance on the part of the church. It doesn’t “just happen” by default. What might this entail? In the his seminar “The Parent-Church Connection,” Pastor Ron Rudd provided a list of practical ideas. To get started (and not feel overwhelmed), he encouraged children’s and youth ministry leaders to choose one to implement in the month ahead.
- Equipping Parents—Make resources available to our parents to help them be more effective at the daunting task before them…Give your parents a handbook at the beginning of the year with your teaching calendar on it so they can be using that to reinforce what their children are learning at church.
- Supporting Parents—Consider ways that we can back them up and provide some much needed support for what they are trying to do. Ask your parents, “What do you feel you need from the church to help you in discipling your child?”
- Encouraging Parents—How can we encourage parents who are worn out, worn thin, or worn down? How do we encourage margin in our families? Ask questions about their families. Begin to know tidbits about who they are. Is their child involved in extracurricular activities? If so, what and how did they choose to be involved in these activities? Parents are generally exhausted. What can we do to refresh and renew them to spur them on to keep up the good fight for their kids?
- Informing Parents—Communicate often. Families need multiple points of contact to feel like they know you. Communication can be through newsletters, emails, social media, texts, or phone calls. Use these outlets to communicate general information about upcoming events, weekly Bible content, and memory verses, as well as family activities they can do at home.
- Pray for the Parents—Keep a journal to document things you know about them. This will not only help you remember names and various bits of information, but also help you have a record of items on your daily prayer list. The more you pray for them, the more you will desire to know them better. Ask God to give you opportunities to deepen relationships.
- Including Parents—Allow the parents to be a part of the planning. Help them know we value and respect them and their input. Provide parent focus groups with parents of children of different ages. Listen well and take good notes during these times. Look for ways you can implement a good idea. Respect is earned. Give the parents time to be heard. Respect requires an investment of time.
- Reminding Parents—Do we just expect parents to read the bulletin or website, or the flyers that we send home? We need to hear a message sometimes up to seven times before it actually sinks in, according to advertisers. Can you think of seven different ways to communicate an announcement you want your parents to know?
- Training Parents—Parents need training, not lectures. How can we show them how to be better parents rather than just telling them they need to be? Demonstrate how to use the tools in a parent tool box (parent manual, Fighter Verses, memory pack, etc.) Show them these things and demonstrate it for them. Have special classes for them.
- Involving Parents—How can we make parents a key part of the programs we lead? Consider having a target number of your volunteers being parents. For example: 30% of our children’s ministry team consist of parents of our kids. Don’t be afraid to ask our parents and grandparents to serve in the ministry. If you have a relationship with them they are more likely to serve willing alongside you.
- Highlighting Parents—Make much of God! And in doing this remember how He lifts up parents in their high calling of training the next generation. Recognizing parents for their achievements as parents. Our culture beats up on parents. How can we elevate them in our ministry?
- Remembering Parents—When those great big plans for the church are being brain stormed, we need to be the one who is asking. “How will this affect our parents?”
- Defending Parents—When ministries forget the needs and concerns of parents, and leaders want parents to adapt or stay away, we may be the one who needs to stand in the path and defend their need to be accommodated or considered.
- Serving Parents—We often hear how more parents are needed to serve in the children’s ministry. How can the children’s ministry serve our parents? How can your SS class or club programs serve the parents?
- Loving Parents—Would our parents say they feel loved by our churches?
- Esteeming parents—Parents are an important part of the future of the church. They are the guardians of the next generation and ought to be esteemed as valuable players in the church’s strategy to impact the world. We are called to make disciples of all nations. The most effective strategy just might be to help the parents in our own churches in discipling their own children! Come alongside our parents and equip them in this charge.
(Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)