Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Other "Basket" - Engage Them!

Image result for clipart for growth chartFor the record, I love Children's Ministry. I absolutely believe it is important and valuable. I am certain the church needs to do all it can to have an engaging, effective children's ministry. But, I also believe for far too many years we have, "put all our 'eggs' into one 'basket'" by focusing on children's ministry as the church and have failed to engage, equip and encourage parents and grandparents to pass on a heritage of faith. 

While the one to five hours a week (or every other week for many children) they spend in church can be time well spent, time which helps them learn to know and walk with Jesus, it is just not enough. It is such a small fraction of the 168 to 336 hours children have in their week - or two. 

If we are truly serious about reaching children for Jesus and helping them learn to know and walk with Him, we have to, "move some of our 'eggs' to a different 'basket'", the "basket" of ministry to parents and grandparents.

So, what might this "basket" of ministry to parents and grandparents look like? I believe it has to do three things: engage, equip and encourage. Let's look at, "engaging" them today.

According to Dictionary.com, the word, "engage" means:
  1. Choosing to involve oneself in or commit oneself to something.
  2. To occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons).  
  3. To attract and hold  firmly.
So, "engaging" parents and grandparents means we, "attract and hold fast their attention, so they will choose to involve themselves in passing on a heritage of faith to their children/grandchildren".

I understand how parents are often busy with the day-in-day-out details of life; working, laundry, cooking, cleaning, school, the list goes on and on. But, it is in these every day, day-in-day-out details God wants them to pass on this heritage of faith. And I realize not all, but many grandparents feel like they have, "done their job" and now they "deserve" to sit back and take it easy. They "deserve" to spend several months of the year in Florida - or some other warm state, at least those who live in a cold, winter State like Michigan where I live. Engaging parents and grandparents can be a challenge.

But engage them we must. The cost is far too high if we fail to engage them and they fail to pass on a heritage of faith. I think the key to engaging them is found in the third definition . . . "To attract and hold fast." We must get their attention.

Too many parents think it is the church's "job" to teach their children about God. They think this is why they bring them to church, but they do not stop to think about how even if they go to church every Sunday and have their children involved in the mid-week ministry of their church, this only adds up to four or five hours out of the 168 hours in a week. Such a minuscule percentage of time.

And grandparents know something parents do not; these years really do fly by. Children grow up so quickly. They do not stay little for long.

So, we in the church must get the attention of parents and grandparents and help them realize how little time they have and engage them in making the most of this time. How can we do this? Consider the following . . . 
  • One way we do this is with classes for parents and grandparents - something the church is already doing. But, we need to be much more intentional about these classes. Take a serious look at your adult ministry classes. Do they really "teach" people, or are the actually really opportunities for adults to get together? Don't get me wrong. Classes about the Bible are worthwhile for parents and grandparents, but along with teaching the Bible, we need to also be focused on engaging them so they are focused on passing on a heritage of faith.
  • It is not difficult to add a component to each adult class where parents and grandparents talk together about what they are doing to pass on a heritage of faith to their children and grandchildren. 
  • Provide time in each class for parents and grandparents for them to pray together; time where they are, "engaged".
  • You could also offer special workshops where parents and grandparents can learn more about how to pass on a heritage of faith to their children and grandchildren.
These are just a few ideas, but the important thing is to get the attention of parents and grandparents, help remind them how quickly their children/grandchildren will grow up and engage them in passing on a heritage of faith. Among the many important things parents do each day, there is none more important than passing on a heritage of faith to their children. And grandparents are not "finished". They have not, "done their part". If they are grandparents, they still have a job to do, a part to play in passing on a heritage of faith.

Remind them. Engage them!

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