Whether you're excited or not, it's happening. So buckle up.
As leaders in the church, we have in-person influence with kids for about 40 hours per year (probably a lot less). Parents have about 3,000 hours per year with their kids.
I don't think I need to convince anyone that parents have the most influence in their child's life and that they're best positioned for it. This stat has been in the church world for YEARS and church leaders are trying to figure out how to go from being the primary spiritual influence for their children to partnering with parents and letting them take the primary role. Many churches say that they value partnering with parents and seeing them as the primary influencer.
We can say we champion the idea that parents are the primary disciple-makers of their children, however, we often don't operate that way.
This is a key time to help give a boost to this shift that needs to be made.
We're not just ministering to kids; we're also ministering to parents.
When parents are in discipling communities, their faith grows. And when their faith grows, their child's faith grows. When they start praying more, their child starts praying more. When they start reading the bible more, their child starts reading the bible more.
The best way to do kids ministry is to do adult ministry. The best way for kids to meet Jesus and have a relationship with him if through their parents (not you).
Investing in parents is investing in kids.
When is the last time you told the parents in your church how great they are? Give them a call, send them a message or write them a note. Make it personal. Your parents need to be encouraged.
Say to them, "You can do this! I believe in you. Let me help you in any way I can. Call me if you need support. You have been equipped by God to be a parent. You've got this!"
A simple way to check up on your parents is by looking at what they're posting on social media. You can learn a lot about what people are going through by what they post. Check-up and then check-in.
There are some very tangible and practical ways you can support and encourage parents. Yes, they are more time-consuming but they will make a huge difference in the lives that you touch. Andy Stanley often says, "Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone." If you have 400 families and you can only connect with five per week, start with five per week.
Better yet, share your vision and find volunteers to help. If you find five people who want to help families succeed and they each connect with five families, you now are impacting 25 families. Multiplication is always better than addition.
Another way to support parents is to put less on their plate. We must value their time and not give them 1,000 things to do - from Sunday service to bedtime devotions to afternoon activities to memory verse to zoom conversation to youth groups to small groups to marriage seminars. Families have a lot going on and we shouldn't be the ones that keep piling it on.
This may be crazy, but what if we gave people permission to attend a small group that gave them practical biblical teaching that's perfect for their life stage instead of attending a Sunday service?
CRAZY TALK. I know.
What if they felt like they could choose a bible study over Sunday morning and not feel bad? What if you told them that when you gather with other believers for community, teaching and prayer that it's still "church" no matter how big the group, day of the week or if the "pastor" is there or not?
This is as much of a suggestion as it is a challenge to think outside of what your idea of church is.
A good place to start for empowering parent-driven discipleship is finding a family ministry champion. Is there anyone in your church who's currently taking the initiative to disciple their kids? Learn from them. Ask them what they're doing. What works for them and what doesn’t? Would they be willing to be interviewed to empower other parents? Would they be willing to lead a small group on spiritual parenting? Maybe this family ministry champion is you.
Make sure your parents have access to the resources they need and that they know about them. Just sharing resources once isn't enough. If the vision is for parents to take the lead, you need to communicate the vision until you think they're tired of hearing it, then you know you're about halfway there. And, only give a few great resources. As much as people will say they like choices, the more choices there are, the harder it is to make a decision and really get into something.
Check out this page with curated resources to equip parents for faith-filled homes.
Do you have a building to use? Put it to good use.
Let's be honest, kids don't like being in your adult service and your parents don't like having to watch their kids while listening to a message from your preacher. It's a lose-lose. And a kids-only service is not likely with the current pandemic guidelines and regulations.
Why not have a service specifically designed for families with kids?
This could be after your typical adult Sunday service or maybe after dinner on a weeknight. Or maybe even a Saturday afternoon.
Have a kids service and have the parents accompany their kids or have a family service that is a mix of fun for all generations.
For some insight on having a family service take a look at option 2 in this article.
Another great use for your building is to host Physically Distanced Family Nights. Or PDFN! Host a trivia night, craft night, paint night, family talent show, movie night, family bingo, lip-sync battles, air bands or anything you can imagine up. Get some Idea here.
Ministry is going to look different than it did in the past.
My challenge to you is to be a kids ministry imagineer and devise and implement a new or highly imaginative concept into your family ministry.