by Elle Campbell
I don’t know about you, but I’m convinced of something.
Parents and small group leaders are the most important people in our churches.
They’re more important than me,
they’re more important than you,
and they’re even more important than the most important person on your staff,
when it comes to influencing kids.
Parents matter because the church will never match the kind of influence that parents have in the lives of their own children. Our influence is temporary. A parent’s influence is lifelong.
And small group leaders (SGLs) matter because you and I can’t personally pastor every kid who walks through the doors of our churches. So, our best shot at getting kids to know God is to multiply our influence—to give kids an SGL, someone (besides us and their parents) who knows God, who believes in them, and who gives them a place to belong.
Parents and SGLs are the most important people in your church because they have more influence in the lives of kids than anyone else. So, if you want to encourage an authentic, lifelong faith in kids, here’s an idea: influence the influencers.
Influence and invest in parents and small group leaders, so they can influence and invest in kids.
And do that repeatedly. Regularly. Weekly.
But . . . how?
How do you create a culture in your ministry where you are regularly influencing and investing in both parents and small group leaders?
When I was working on the book Creating a Lead Small Culture with Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy, we spent a very long time interviewing ministry leaders from all over the country to see if we could discover their secrets to influencing parents and small group leaders. We listened to a lot of smart people and, eventually, we boiled down their insights to three common things.
Ministry leaders who prioritize parents and small group leaders consistently . . .
1. IMPROVE THEIR STRUCTURE;
2. EMPOWER PARENTS AND SMALL GROUP LEADERS;
3. CREATE SHARED EXPERIENCES.
Let’s break that down.
1. IMPROVE YOUR STRUCTURE
The structure of your ministry affects the quality of the relationships in your ministry.
Maybe the words “relationship” and “structure” don’t feel like they go together. But think about it. Is your ministry organized in a way that prioritizes kids’ relationships with their parents and small group leaders?
If you want to find out what your structure prioritizes, try asking a few questions. What does your budget look like? Your calendar? Your staff? In a typical week, how do you spend your time? Does anyone on your team feel responsible for the investment in parents? In small group leaders?
When you begin to act like parents and SGLs really are the most important people in your church, and that their relationships with kids matter, you’ll arrange the structure of your ministry to better support them. You’ll spend time tweaking the systems in your organization to help kids better connect with their parents and SGLs. And you’ll use your calendar, your budget, your staff, and your resources to make parents and SGLs a priority.
If you believe the quality of relationships is linked to the quality of your structure, then you will IMPROVE YOUR STRUCTURE.
2. EMPOWER PARENTS AND SMALL GROUP LEADERS
Every smart leader should embrace the idea that a ministry to kids should never be built around one person . . . like you, for example, or whoever the children’s pastor or student pastor is at your church.
You have a limited capacity, which means you can only reasonably invest in a handful of people at any given time. So because your capacity is limited, but you want to influence kids to know God, maybe the best thing you can do is to empower other people to influence those kids.
You may not be able to personally invest in every kid, but if you empower parents and small group leaders to invest in the kids they love, you’ll multiply your efforts and multiply your influence.
If you believe the scope of your influence is determined by the success of their parents and SGLs, then you will EMPOWER PARENTS AND SMALL GROUP LEADERS.
3. CREATE SHARED EXPERIENCES
Here’s the truth about kids. Kids tend to care more about what someone says when they know that person cares about them. As church leaders, we need to communicate truth to kids. But we also need to recognize that our message is best understood in the context of relationships.
You can’t make a kid believe. But you can create an experience where a kid can hear and process truth with someone who knows them, who cares about them, and who has influence in their life. Someone like a parent or a small group leader.
If you believe that parents and small group leaders matter, then you should be spending time creating experiences where they can connect with kids. You should be working diligently on tweaking and evaluating your weekly small group experiences, and you should be working diligently to help parents create moments of connection and intentionality at home with their children.
If you believe the truth of your message is amplified by the depth of relationships, then you will CREATE SHARED EXPERIENCES.
Here’s the point. If you believe parents and small group leaders are the most important people in your church, then your actions should support what you say you believe. If you believe it, then you should be constantly working to improve your structure, empower parents and leaders, and create shared experiences.
Because your best chance to influence a kid is to help their parents and SGLs influence them.
Oh, but if you want parents and small group leaders to influence kids every week . . . then it might be a good idea for you to influence parents and small group leaders every week, too.
Yeah, every week.
I think you can influence parents and small group leaders . . . every week.
I think you can do it by improving your structure . . . every week.
I think you can empower parents and small group leaders . . . every week.
And I think you can create shared experiences . . . every week.
Because the best way to influence a kid this week is to influence a parent or small group leader this week.
So if you believe that, too, but you’re wondering how in the world you’ll have time to do all of that every week . . . I think we’ve got something that can help.
The Lead Small App is a great tool for small group leaders. It gives them training, a way to keep a digital roster of their few, encouragement, and their curriculum for group. And now, YOU get to edit the curriculum portion of the app.
The Lead Small App already has great content from the Orange Curriculum, but now you can edit, switch, or start from scratch.
Lead Small Weekly is an online subscription that helps you help leaders do group better by breaking down a yearly plan into a weekly checklist.
Weekly gives you a Channel ID in the Lead Small App, so your SGLs can subscribe to your customized “This Week” content.
Parent Cue Weekly is an online subscription that helps you help parents do family better by breaking down a yearly plan into a weekly checklist.