Kids are changing fast. As important as it is for churches to stay connected to kids as they grow, it’s even more important for parents to do so.
What parents know
Regardless of how much a church learns about life stages, parents know things no one else knows about their own children.
That’s why parents have an advantage that the church will never have related to the future of a child: A parent has history. Parents know their child’s patterns, tendencies, preferences, and behaviors better than anyone.
What churches know
That being said, churches know something parents don’t know.
Churches work with multiple kids in the same phase every week. That means churches can help parents understand general characteristics of a phase so they can readjust their parenting skills.
As a church leader, you have the opportunity to reactivate parents as their kids grow so that kids at every phase will stay connected to their parents. Your role is to remind parents at every phase to keep parenting with the end in mind. Because parents are not really raising children; they’re raising adults.
Think about it this way: there are four words parents need to remember at each phase:
1. Embrace their physical needs
During the preschool years parents must learn to EMBRACE their child’s tangible needs so they can begin to establish physical trust.
2. Engage their interests
During the elementary years, parents should take a crash course in storytelling and play so they can ENGAGE the interest of their child. This will be the best time to earn relationship credit.
3. Affirm their personal journey
During middle school, parents need to master the skill of never freaking out. This is when they learn to AFFIRM the personal journey of their tween. During this time, they will have plenty of opportunities to prove a relational commitment.
4. Mobilze their potential
At ninth grade, parents start mastering the art of negotiating. They have approximately 200 weeks left to MOBILIZE their kid toward a better future. So they need to leverage their relational influence.
Ideas for reactivating parents
- Create a content calendar with everything you want parents to know.
- Organize a plan to cue parents weekly with key information when they need it.
- Establish annual parent orientations to equip them for the next phase.
- Recruit leaders to connect with every parent, especially those who never show up.
- Provide resources to enhance family time in the home.
For more ideas about reactivating parents at every phase, check out the book It’s Just a Phase, by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy, at OrangeBooks.com. It’s about why every life stage of a kid matters and what your church should do about it.
For a simple guide to share with parents, check out Don’t Miss It: Parent Every Week Like It Counts, also by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy.
Emily Meredith spent nearly 15 years serving in full-time children’s ministry in churches in Texas and Georgia. For nine of those years, she served as the UpStreet Director (K-5th grade) at Buckhead Church, a campus of North Point Ministries in Atlanta. Currently a full-time mom, Emily is grateful for the opportunity to contribute as a writer for First Look and 252 Basics. When she isn’t drinking Diet Coke or looking for her car keys, Emily loves to read and capture the funny things her boys say on Facebook. She lives with her husband, Gary, and their boys, Sam and Charlie, in Auburn, Alabama.