As the body of Christ, our church is united because "we all share the same Spirit" (1 Cor 12:13). The Holy Spirit is in all believers and brings us together with one common goal: to share the love that Jesus gives us with others. One significant group of people the church has united around is our children. Children Ministries are devoted to this call from the Holy Spirit, to "start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it." (Prov 22:6)
Parents, ministry leaders, volunteers, and the entire body of Christ can partner to teach and equip kids. How is this done? In what ways can kid pastors partner with parents? The following are 7 essential ways we can partner with parents in their journey to share the all-important message of Jesus with the next generation.
1. Begin at the Beginning
For parents who have a newborn baby, it is such a beautiful beginning. They look into their child's eyes and see God's creation. They love their child and seek to protect, treasure, and do whatever is best for them. This is a pivotal moment as a parent looks ahead to the future and decides whether or not they want to bring their kid up in your church. They begin to notice what children's events are happening, what the ministry is like, and if there is a suitable environment for their child to thrive in the church. Just like parents look ahead and decide which school district they want their kids to live in, it is equally if not more important to them that the church has a place for their kids to grow in Christ!
We can partner with parents by providing good programs, Bible-based lessons as early as preschool, and reading short Bible stories to toddlers in our Nursery. We can invite new parents to come and hear what programs our churches provide and how they can start getting involved now. These things will show new parents how invested we are in their child from the beginning.
2. Give Parents a Say
Congregational meetings are important to the church because they allow everyone to share their ideas and make decisions as the body of Christ. While you can't let parents nitpick at every detail of your kid's ministry, you can decide what your priorities are and how you will carry them out as a church. Involving parents in the voting process for what type of programs the church will provide and how the ministry will provide a safe environment for kids is just one way to invite them into the decision-making process. This will help give parents peace of mind that their child is being cared for and enriched to be part of the ministry. It will also give KidMin pastors a sense of relief to know they are involving parents in the process and that this ministry is something parents not only feel comfortable with but have given their stamp of approval over.
3. Invite Parents to Serve in Children's Ministry
Often times we think parents want or need a break from their kids as they drop them off at children's ministry. This is valid because they need a space to learn and grow in their faith without the distraction of their kid's needs. At the same time, parents often make great volunteers because they are invested in these children already. They know their child and many times their friends. Inviting parents to get involved in children's ministry is a great way to partner with them toward sharing the love of Jesus with these kids. If a parent can't help every Sunday, they still might be willing and able to volunteer at an event. If a parent has flexibility in their schedule, they may be able to attend the adult church service and serve in a second service with the kid ministry. Whatever the case, allowing parents to join your ministry will not only help strengthen your partnership with them but also provide new opportunities to collaborate and create exciting new programs like a parent leading a kid's choir, a parent coaching a soccer team, or a parent teaching at a children's event.
4. Send the Bible Lesson Home
After your lesson plan has been taught on a Sunday morning, take this opportunity to send each child home with a craft and some information about what they learned in class that day. Involve parents in what their child has learned that Sunday, and allow them to continue to teach them throughout the week. Here at Children's Ministry Deals, we include a "Make it Stick" take-home sheet in each of our lessons that Sunday school teachers can send home with kids. We encourage you not to pass up this opportunity for parents to see what their child is learning about, to engage with their kids by asking questions, and to share their own experiences with their children. This opens the door for more parent-kid conversations about God and gives them a great foundation to work off of.
5. Information Sheet
As you begin a new season, children's ministry often requests emergency contact information as well as health or special needs information. Included in your paperwork, you should include an informational sheet. The information you could request would be directly related to getting to know the child and partnering with the parent so that you can best serve them. Questions you could ask are: To the best of your knowledge, has your child accepted Jesus into their heart? If you had to describe your kid in just five adjectives, what would they be? What are your child's strengths? What are one or more things that your kid struggles with? What are you hoping your child learns at church this year?
This will give the parent a chance to share more about their kid and it will give ministry leaders a better understanding of the kids they are working with.
6. Open Communication
One of the best ways to partner with parents is to show them you have open communication. During drop-off and pick-up time, share at least one positive thing about their kid from that day. This will open the door to sharing any negatives without sounding like a rebuke, if there are any to be shared. It will also allow parents to ask questions and share necessary information while exhibiting that you are on the same team as them. You can also arrange a way for parents to have a private conversation with you by setting up a meeting during the week. Sometimes family dynamics or personal issues come up. Creating a space where parents can share this information will aid us in being on the same page as the parents. Then, we are more able to help the children we serve to the best of our abilities.
7. Look Ahead to the future
As you partner with parents, ensure you also partner with the ministry leaders who will shape their child's future. Transitions are a big step for kids and often feel intimidating. Before it is time for kids to move up to youth group, allow them to experience the next step within the safety of your ministry. Invite youth group kids to come to teach a lesson or perform a skit. Ask the youth to lead a service project that involves your kid ministry. Next, allow your oldest kids to visit the youth group for a day and join in one of their fun events. Invite parents into the process by asking volunteers to help run the event. This transition time is often just as difficult for the parents as it is for the kids. The more you can partner with the parents during this new stage of life, the better. The same goes for teenagers transitioning from a youth group to a college-age group.
Please, never let parents or kids feel like everything is ending and now they are on their own. We are the body of Christ. We are invited into a relationship with God that is never a life on our own. Our church can be a representation of this. We can continually invite our members into the next community to remind them that we are in this together for the long haul. A new stage of life never means complete independence. Instead, it means a growing relationship with God, a dependence on Him, and a continual relationship with other believers in Christ!
As children grow, we can partner with parents to provide a community we all need. This community is the church!