Here at Orange, we talk a lot about the two most important people in your church: parents and small group leaders (SGLs). These are the most important people in your church because they have the most influence with kids. And because parents and SGLs have the most influence with kids, it’s probably a good idea to . . .
get them on the same page.
make sure they know each other.
help them partner together.
get them connected.
Because two influences combined will make a far greater impact than two influences alone.
But . . . how? How, as a church leader, can you do a better job of strategically connecting small group leaders with the parents of their few?
Recently, we hopped onto Facebook and asked that question to the 1,600+ church leaders in the Go Weekly Facebook group. And they had some pretty fantastic answers. Take a look.
1. Host a new kind of event
“We recently hosted a preview night and invited parents and kids to come have a picnic on the lawn and meet their child’s leader. Each leader had a blanket on the lawn and we served dinner (hot dogs, chips, cookies, drinks, etc.). We had inflatables for the kids and sidewalk chalk. It was a very simple set up, but a huge success in connecting small group leaders to families. We sent parents home with a copy of the weekly small group lesson so they could see what their child’s leaders are given to connect with them each week. Several of my leaders and parents found each other on social media and have connected that way too. It was awesome!” – Leah Martinez
“We had a moving-up dinner for middle schoolers and parents to meet their small group leaders and then open house with preschool and elementary groups on promotion Sunday.” – Laura Thompson Wright
“We had a potluck and fishing at a local forest preserve for middle school and high school parents, students and leaders. It was a huge hit. Leaders led tons of students in a fishing competition, every family brought a side dish or dessert, we provided dinner, had a volleyball net, and some other activities. A win for the leader that night was to have a conversation with every parent of their few. It happened and it was awesome.
The potluck was a catalyst for coffee and breakfast dates that our male leaders have with dads, and female leaders have with moms. That was all at the start of summer, as that’s when we move up our grades. This Sunday we are having a Back to School Friends And Family Kickball Game. A family in our church has been doing these on Sunday evenings and they’ve been a huge hit, so I’ve asked them if we could partner up and do one big huge one that they lead. It’s happening this Sunday.” – Jessica Cortesi Bowman
2. Leverage what you’re already doing
“We’re inviting all the parents to join us for an open house for our fall kickoff. It helps that our groups all meet at the church on the same night.” – Jim Scudder
“The first week of August we had a Parent and Leader Brunch for our preschool and elementary ministries. We did the brunch during our regular small group time so we wouldn’t add something else to the parents’ already busy calendar but try to make use of the time we already had them with us at church. We watched Skeeples & Lomes, I shared some about my passion and vision for the ministry, and then we broke out into small groups. The parents got to meet their child’s leaders, and the leaders got to ask specific questions, get helpful information, and talk about the resources we have available for parents. It was our first attempt, but we had over half of our kids’ parents attend, so I call that a win. One of my SGLs has even reached out to the parents of their kids and has started using an app he found to have private group messaging with them about their kids and see what he can pray for, how he can visit with the kids at school, and offer support to the parents.” – Nicole Watts Beckman
“One slam-dunk way we connect our two influences is after a weekend retreat. We ask parents to arrive when the bus arrives back at church, but we ask them to stay for about 45 minutes afterward. In that time, we go in depth about what happened over the weekend, give them specific follow-up questions for their kids, thank the small group leaders and cabin leaders publicly who just poured into their kids, and we usually serve refreshments to encourage interaction and conversation. Parents felt connected and, because they felt informed, they got to avoid the dreaded exchange with their kids of, ‘What did you do this weekend (that I paid lots of money for)?’ and hearing, ‘Nothing much . . . ’ in return. Leaders and parents got to rub shoulders. Inevitably, parents thanked leaders for their time and energy. It was a win-win-win-win.” – Brian Martin
“This past Sunday we invited all parents to join us in the youth center during the 11:00 service (our main 7-12th grade programming time). We played some games, had an epic lip sync battle between two parents and a youth, allowed handpicked youth to share about our main programs, events, and ways to serve over the next year, then had time for small group leaders and the parents of their few to meet. We had great numbers and awesome energy. We used some of the material from the Say Yes event from Go Weekly.” – Brett Ryan Talley
3. Make videos
“For a lot of the students I’ve had, their parents would not ever step foot onto our campus. But we did have their contact info. So, we made short video bios of our small group leaders following a simple formula of questions and info and sent them to parents. This brought our leaders into their world when the parents would never come to ours.” – Michael Branton
4. Strategize your entrances and exits
“Something new I am trying this year is having each SGL dismiss their few to the parents. My small groups are by color so we will hang colored signs in the check-out area and each leader will stand under their color. Parents will line up by their child’s color to pick them up and will be handed a Parent Cue and get a brief moment with the leader. Since the leaders will be busy, we are ending five minutes early and allowing the children to play at activity stations so they are engaged during dismissal. Our Room Coordinators will monitor the stations so the SGLs can dismiss.” – Lyndsay Edwards
5. Ask SGLs to make a connection
“We are new at this, but we are asking SGL to contact the parents of their few before our small groups begin September 13. Hoping this will begin the conversation. SGLs are also being asked to contact parents when children miss.” – Ellen Bercegeay Dillard
“We are having our SGLs call parents the week before our fall kick-off, and then when their kid misses for a 2nd week (we found that 1 week felt weird as our small groups don’t meet on Sundays and so sometimes the absence is just a school weeknight event, not a ‘skip,’ so to speak). We’ll be using this fall to have them build the bond through postcards and initiating conversations at pick-up. Then in January, we’ll do a parent/SGL breakfast that will also feature a Phase gallery to connect the training that we’re doing with our SGL this whole year with what parents are (hopefully) experiencing.” – Katie Parks Skerpon
6. Develop a new volunteer role
“We developed a volunteer role (a Family Coach) to focus on just that one thing—help SGLs partner with parents.” – Gina Abbas
So how about you? What have you found to be successful as you’ve worked toward connecting parents and small group leaders? We’d love for you to come join the conversation on Facebook in the Go Weekly group, where over 1,600 church leaders like you are talking every day about how to better train small group leaders, train parents, and connect these two influences for the sake of the kids we all love. Come join us!
And if you’d like to learn more about some of the resources mentioned in these responses, or get your hands on some additional resources, tools, and training to help you better lead parents and small group leaders, check out GoWeekly.com. It’s everything you need, every week, to train parents, train small group leaders, and better equip the people who are responsible for investing in them.