Thursday, November 16, 2023

The Other Part of Effective Children's Ministry . . . Part Two!

So when it comes to equipping parents and grandparents, what can and should the church do to help them? Equipping them involves training them and this is a vital – sadly often ignored – area of critical ministry the church is in the unique place to offer to parents and grandparents, both from the church as well as the community. The church can impact church families by offering classes to help them in the following areas:

  1. Understanding and communicating how to live God’s Word - I highly recommend The Joshua Basket and Celebrations of Faith as these resources would be easy to develop into a training and are sure to significantly impact families who implement these celebrations. I also recommend utilizing a curriculum with a unified scope and sequence such as Deeper In for Children.
  2. How to raise children and help them learn to make wise choices - I recommend Parenting with Love and Logic
  3. How to be a steward of their time and resources, check out Financial Parenting 
The church can impact and equip church and community parents and grandparents by offering classes in these areas as well:
  1. How to discipline their children – all parents and grandparents need help with this vital area, I recommend Parenting with Love and Logic 
  2. Marriage – both to strengthen and help when it is struggling - check out Marriage Love and LogicThe Five Love Languages: the Secret to Love that Lasts,
  3. Divorce recovery - check out the single parent: confident and successful, Love Must Be ToughThe Smart Step-FamilyHealing the Hurt in Your Marriage
  4. Finances, check out Financial Parenting and Financial Peace University
I had the opportunity to talk with Children's Pastors from churches across the country to see what they are doing to equip parents and grandparents and how they get church and community parents and grandparents to attend their training opportunities. Most of the churches I spoke with told me while they wanted to provide opportunities to equip and train them and knew this had to be a vital component of effective ministry to their kids, they were not really doing so. The churches which were providing any equipping and training opportunities were mostly implementing them through their small group ministry. These opportunities were successful because to begin with, the invitations to attend – especially to community parents and grandparents – were delivered personally, by a church parent/grandparent and the class began with a relationship in place from which to build. In fact, one large church told me 90% of community parents/grandparents were brought into their church by relationships with those who attended the church. 

People in and out of the church are looking for real relationships and if we provide opportunities for people to find these relationships and at the same time strengthen their parenting skills, their marriages, their families, we will not only find parents and grandparents attending our training classes, but will find ourselves successful at the other part of effective ministry to children – building, equipping, and encouraging the family as well!

We only see kids for a few hours a week. If parents and grandparents understood their roll as primary trainers/teachers for their children and felt equipped and confident to do so, these families would be strengthened and our ministry would be many times more effective. We need to evaluate and include in our written ministry statement measurable goals relating to equipping and encouraging parents and grandparents to train their children as many of them will step into and fill their role if they feel equipped and are encouraged to follow-through.

Along with equipping and encouraging parents and grandparents we do have a role to fill in coming alongside and building on what they are teaching their children. We need to evaluate our Sunday school, mid-week ministry, and other opportunities for children to be involved in our ministries to be certain these opportunities are genuinely effective. We want children whose parents/grandparents do train them to be further challenged to continue to understand and live God’s Word as they participate in the opportunities we develop and provide at church. And we MUST teach the "whys" - why they are able to believe, not just what they need to believe. (Check out Anchored for resources to help you teach the "whys".)
We also need to be aware, while many parents/grandparents will fill their role when they understand and are equipped to do so, there will be those who – for whatever reason – will not accept this role. In these cases, we in the church have a “surrogate” role to fill with these kids. We can have a truly effective ministry which impacts lives in real and lasting ways and while we strive to pass a legacy of faith to these kids, we need to also continue to try and reach the parents and grandparents, so they will put their faith in Christ and then be equipped and encouraged to train their children.

Ministry to children is too important for us to ignore building, equipping, and strengthening families. If we have a ministry to children we also have to have a ministry to parents, grandparents, and the family as well. When we commit to the whole ministry we will see families in the church strengthened and families from the community reached for Christ making a real, lasting and measurable impact on the community!

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