Why Kids Need Engaged Parents and Small Group Leaders

The need for parental and small group leader engagement in kids’ lives is great. The level that children receive from these important role models has a direct effect on their social, emotional, and spiritual health. Students don’t just call for our occasional involvement; they need true commitment, which is a big undertaking. 

Today we will dive into what this real devotion looks like and its benefits. You might be surprised to hear that, as kid ministry leaders, we have a unique opportunity to impact the engagement these children receive!

What Does Parental Engagement Look Like?

Parents who are engaged in their child’s life take an active role daily. It requires face-to-face interaction, patience, love, and respect. When it comes to taking an interest in their kid’s spiritual life, ideally it would look like this: sharing their testimony with their child, reading scripture and praying together, serving alongside one another, and encouraging their kid’s involvement in the church. 

What Do Engaging Small Group Leaders Look Like?

An engaging small group leader is a person who listens well, asks important questions, shares their testimony, and works to strengthen their relationship with the kids by doing fun activities together. They are encouragers and devote real time and energy to the children they work with.

Why Do Kids Need Engaged Parents and Small Group Leaders?

Now that we have covered what engagement looks like, we can explore why it is so essential. It’s pretty easy to do when you look back at your own childhood. Who had the greatest positive impact on you, and why? What character traits stand out about that person? How engaged were they in your conversations, and how much quality time were they spending? Were they the type of person to be too busy to spend time with you? Or did they make the effort required to form a solid relationship with you? 

These questions can be painful when thinking about someone who did NOT give you the full attention you needed. At the same time, when you think about a role model or family member who DID spend the time it took and gave you the energy it needed, it can hold an exceptional place in your heart. Now, we can fast forward and think about today. Children need the very same engagement that we needed in our childhood. Times might be changing, but the needs remain the same. 

How to Share Your Testimony With Kids

When considering a child’s walk with Jesus, our impact on them can be monumental! Sharing our testimony with a kid can sound weighty. Should we really share the difficult trials we went through with a child? But sharing our personal stories can have a huge impact because we are opening up to them and becoming more relatable. 

If we act like we “always had it together,” a kid will feel like we are unapproachable. Instead, we can share how Jesus has helped us in our lives and how He has changed us! Plus, if the subject matter is too strong, you can share the main points without giving kids too much detail. In the end, what kids need most to connect with adults is honesty and trust. We can do that by beginning with ourselves and sharing our own stories. This will help them to feel safe and open up to us. 

Why Does Engagement Matter?

When children feel engaged with you, they will feel like someone cares. They will also be able to relax and have fun because they will feel much more comfortable having you as a role model and leader. 

Once you have formed this close bond, your influence will be much greater, and your words will hold more value. You can encourage kids to read their Bible and even show them some great verses that have helped you and tell them why. However, there is a big difference between telling kids that they should really read their Bible more and reading it together. 

When kids watch you worship God in church, it will hold more influence over them. They will ask themselves,“why is my parent/leader singing to God with such passion and joy?” They will pay more attention to your example, and your actions will be significant. This is what being a witness for Jesus is all about!

How Kid Ministry Leaders Can Establish Strong Connections with Parents/Small Group Leaders

As kid ministry leaders, we have a unique opportunity to guide parents and small group leaders to be tremendous influencers in children’s lives. To establish stronger connections in these relationships, you can adopt several practices. Take a look at these ideas and decide what is best for your children’s ministry!

Choose a Curriculum

Choose a curriculum that promotes strong relationships with small group leaders and parents. Children’s Ministry Deals provides lesson plans with small group time, during which leaders ask engaging questions, do fun activities, play games, and read God’s word together. The lesson plans also include a “Make it Stick” take-home that helps parents engage with kids, talk about what they learned, and discuss Biblical truths together.  

Host a Small Group Training Day

Provide a day of training for small group leaders once a year to walk them through the importance of engagement and how to establish strong relationships. Be sure to cover different aspects each year so that volunteers aren’t hearing the same information each time they train. 

Topics you can cover include 

  • How to show kids I am engaged (body language, genuine interest, etc.)
  • What it takes to form a strong connection (honesty, quality time, words of encouragement)
  • Why engagement is important to kids (a need for positive role models)

Take a look at a previous article on our blog for tips on training children’s ministry volunteers. 

Host a Parent Day

Invite parents to participate in the church ministry. As they get involved, your ministry can have a vast impact on their hearts. You can learn what might be lacking in parental engagement by watching other parents and leaders. 

Like all adults, parents are lifelong learners. If they didn’t receive adequate quality time and attention as a child, it may be a challenge for them to provide it for their children. 

As a ministry, we can work together to accomplish this. Some ways to do this are by asking parents to be small group leaders or inviting them to family ministry events, where they can watch how the church engages with and shows love to one another. Look at your ministry as not merely a drop-off for parents but an invitation for multi-generations to minister to one another.

Organize Family Service Projects

Organize a bi-annual family service project event. This will get families working side-by-side and spending quality time together as they serve others. The event could be at church or in the community. 

Examples that might be fun for families include

  • A spaghetti dinner to raise funds for missions
  • A free carwash at the church
  • A home renovation project for a family in need in the local community
  • A fall clean-up event where families rake leaves for the elderly

Kids Need Engagement

Kids need engagement from the most influential adults in their lives: parents, family members, teachers, and small group leaders. When children feel seen and heard, they will have better confidence. Having positive role models to look up to will help them make wiser decisions. 

We can make quite an impact on the children we live with and serve in church. It begins with a tender heart—a heart changed by Jesus. As our hearts become more like Jesus', we can spread that love to His children. 

When we do, a kid’s heart will open up and be able to hear what we teach. (We can’t teach someone who has a hardened heart.) Then we can share God’s word and “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he grows older he will not abandon it” (Proverbs 22:6 NASB). 

That is what it’s all about!

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Children's Ministry Curriculum