We, as children's pastors and coordinators, must always look at our mission as a team effort. We are a unit with our volunteers and teachers. We are a team with the parents of the kids we serve. We are a body with our church as a whole, looking towards a common goal. As a team effort, we can explore ways to better aid and equip kids and parents in their relationship and walk with Jesus. Partnering with them on this spiritual journey allows them to provide guidance, help, and much-needed encouragement!
Our faith is centered around a relationship with God. A relationship once broken by sin, then healed by Jesus, and now present by the Holy Spirit. Our role in equipping parents and kids is centered around relationships: a child's relationship with their parent, a parent and their child's relationship with Jesus, and the parent's relationship with one another. These connections are vital to a healthy life in Christ, and we can concentrate our energy on these areas to help the children and parents we serve!
Perhaps we've felt in the past that the relationship between a parent and their child is private and none of our business. While this is true to a certain extent, as ministry leaders, we can help navigate healthy relationships within our church. We can encourage parents in their times of trials within their relationships and provide opportunities for relationship growth. By providing parent support groups, parents can dig into God's word with one another, pray together, share challenges they face, and create a support system. Another way to help with a child and parent relationship is to provide events where they can spend quality time with one another. Some event ideas include a father and daughter dance, mother and son scavenger hunt, father and son hike, mother and daughter craft day, and more! Creating an event where the entire family is invited to come out and spend time together can also be a positive experience. Events like festivals, carnivals, and movie nights are great examples of this.
Another helpful tool is hosting a few conferences throughout the year to teach parents how to have healthy relationships with their children. Great topics to include are "How to be Biblical Parents," "How to Use Words of Affirmation to Show My Child They Are Loved," and "How Being Consistent in My Parenting Can Help My Child Feel Safe and Show Me Respect in Return."
In order for the entire family to be a healthy unit, and for children to have good relationships with their parents, parents need a healthy relationship with one another. The Marriage Course (By Alpha International) is an excellent program to host at your church. It is a great way to invite parents to a date night situation where they can strengthen their relationship with one another. When that relationship is strong, it helps make all the other relationships in the family stronger. Another way to aid parents is to give them an excuse to have a night out with one another. The church could provide a quarterly "date night" where an event is held for the kids' ministry, and the parents can drop their kids off and have a date. The best way to help a marriage is by spending time with one another and openly communicating. When we provide programs such as these, we can facilitate progress toward healthier marriages.
Our Relationship with Jesus
Through our children's ministries, we work to provide a way for kids to learn about Jesus, put their faith in Him, and grow in their relationship with Him. It is crucial that we continue this mission and always place this as a high priority in our churches. A child's close relationship with God helps them navigate through life with a clear sense of direction and purpose. We can do this by giving opportunities for small group settings within our kid's ministry where kids can learn Bible verses, ask questions, and grow in faith. It also benefits children to hear stories from the Bible and lessons that coincide with the material.
We can aid parents by administering Bible studies, small groups, Sunday school classes, Christian book clubs, and prayer groups in our churches. A relationship with Jesus takes effort like any other relationship. We have to spend time with Him, talk to Him, learn about Him, trust Him, go where He goes, and allow Him to change us to be like Him. The journey is so much sweeter when we do it with the church body and when we have one another to lean on.
The Church Body
Parents and children are better equipped when they have more than just their peers. It is beneficial for children to spend time with and relate to other children. It's wonderful for parents to have other parents to chat and laugh with. However, let us take advantage of the experience of a multigenerational community. The church comprises old and young, wise and inexperienced, many different cultures and ethnicities, various churches worldwide, and different spiritual gifts and personalities. A mother going through a difficult time parenting will often find the best advice from a grandmother who has done it before. A child with difficulty trusting God can learn a wealth of knowledge by watching an older person with strong faith.
As we work to unite the church together, we are better equipping parents and their children. We can connect, work together, learn from one another, challenge each other, share resources and gifts, and lighten each other's load. Excellent ways to promote unity are inviting the church to come together and work on a service project. (We can ask for volunteers in all areas and skills so that all generations can contribute and work together.) Forming multigenerational and multicultural small groups who can come together once a month to have a meal, pray together, and care for one another's needs is a beautiful way to unify your church. Establishing such programs gives parents and kids a true support system, a way to love and serve others, and a community they can grow with.
Our lives are built on relationships. God said from the beginning, "It is not good for man to be alone." (Gen 2:18) If we are to help one another in our walk with Jesus, we need to establish good relationships. We need to feel that the community around us is truly our family. Only then can they have a lasting influence on one another's spiritual lives. These relationships are how we can encourage one another to "trust in the lord" (Prov 3:5), to "love one another" (John 13:34), and to "fight the good fight" (1 Tim 6:12). Being intentional about how we design our events, programs, missions, and support groups can have a lasting impact on our church family. As we work towards equipping the parents and kids to have a close relationship with Jesus, let's follow Jesus' example in how we have close relationships with one another.