If you have children and students in your ministry, guess what?! You already have a parent ministry! The real question is: Are you leading intentionally or leading passively? If we truly believe that parents are the most important influence in a child’s life, then let’s shape our NextGen ministries to reflect that. If we want to impact the next generation, then we must impact their parents!
Faith is an inside job.
We live in a society where we outsource almost everything. We . . .
- hope our kid excels at soccer we sign them up for a team
- want them to learn how to code
- take them to coding classes
- nurture their interests by enrolling them in local classes
These are not bad things. In fact, it’s incredible to have such an array of resources available. However, for the longest time, I also thought I could outsource my child’s faith, and I think many other parents feel the same way. I brought them to church on Sundays and thought they were getting the necessary seeds planted to grow a faith of their own.
Unfortunately, it’s just not that easy. While what happens in our ministries matters, parents can’t outsource parenting, and they definitely can’t outsource faith! Let’s intentionally make our ministries a helpful resource for all parents, regardless of what phase, stage, or situation they are experiencing with their children.
I want to be intentional about my parent ministry, but where do I start?!
Get started by deciding your win. Orange defines the win for partnering with parents as helping them become more intentional at home and more connected to a faith community. For us, our win was to be a place where parents can go to find trusted resources in any situation. We didn’t want to be viewed as a place only offering spiritual guidance, but also a safe place to come while navigating any challenge a parent might face.
Determine the felt needs of your parents.
Do you know the families in your ministry? If you only see them at drop-off and pick-up, you are probably selling yourself short. Determining the felt needs of your parent community is paramount. When you understand WHO you are serving and their unique pain points, you will gain a clear pathway for meeting their needs.
Here are 3 easy ways to get to know your people.
1. Create an interactive social media group that is specifically for parents to build community.
Post conversation starters, a resource from a trusted source like Parent Cue that hits home on a particular topic. Or a reel from last Sunday highlighting how much fun their kids had that week. Maybe even a video about something fun coming up! The goal is to create interaction and get them talking whether they are regular attenders or not.
2. Assemble a parent panel.
Invite parents who have bought into your vision and those who haven’t. Not only that, but invite parents who attend regularly and those who don’t. Maybe get a little crazy and invite parents that don’t attend your church at all. Be intentional about inviting parents who have family structures that may look different from yours. You will get a pulse on your parent community by navigating tough topics, inviting feedback, and having authentic conversations with a smaller subset of the population you serve. The goal is to get a deeper understanding of what parents are navigating and how we as the church can be a more effective resource.
3. Start taking one parent to coffee each week.
When we have one-on-one conversations with people, with no agenda other than to hear their stories and what God’s doing in their lives, people feel valued. Start now and in one year you will be amazed at how God has built a beautiful community around you where you have earned the right to have influence in their lives as well as have a strong pulse on the issues that weigh on our parents’ hearts.
Getting to know the parents in your community personally is essential if you want to understand their felt needs. But if you want to dive into the latest research on what parents want check out the book, What Most Parents Aren’t Telling You. This is a great place to start and can help you ask the parents in your community better questions.
A strategic plan will help you identify where you are and where you want to go. It will help you track your progress and tweak things along the way. A clear strategy for your parent ministry will help you keep your priorities out front and take meaningful steps towards the goals you’ve set to reach your parents. Remember, a good children’s ministry curriculum or youth ministry curriculum will empower and facilitate your strategy and remove the burden for doing it all yourself!
Here are 4 strategic ideas for empowering parents:
1. Create a revolving parent resource wall in your ministry space.
2. Leverage milestone moments by making them parent-child focused!
Milestones are once-in-a-lifetime, culturally-relevant moments in the life of a child that celebrates a new season. These landmarks provide a beautiful door for the church to come alongside the family to equip, encourage, and most importantly remind parents that they are the primary spiritual influencers. They provide opportunities to help parents realign their priorities and encourage them to be the parents God has called them to be.
3. Host a quarterly Parent Workshop.
Gather all the parents in your community to discuss tough topics that will be explored with vetted, qualified experts. Sex, technology, discipline, navigating friendships, mental health, LGBTQ+, deconstruction of faith… nothing is off-limits!
4. Cue parents no matter where they spend their Sundays!
Leverage digital resources like the Parent Cues in Orange curriculum, the Parent Cue App, emails, and text messages to equip parents so they can disciple their children even when they are spending Sunday at home.
Don’t go it alone.
You may be thinking, “But I’m only one person.”
One of the hardest lessons in ministry is realizing yes, you are in fact only one person. You can’t possibly do it on your own . . . and you aren’t supposed to! That was never Jesus’ model. Jesus had his few that he poured into, they had their few, and so on and so on.
Invite people into God’s story by creating serving roles that are meaningful and impactful. Spend some time thinking about the roles that make sense for your parent ministry and the parents you serve. Create an organizational chart with job descriptions for each role. (You can check out this free job description to use as an example!)
You have to know what you are recruiting for before you can actually recruit them. The more we invite others in, the farther the ministry reaches!
Be intentional, relevant, and strategic. Invite others in.
When we help parents win, the whole family wins. God has placed this vision on your heart for a reason. He is obviously up to something beautiful in your ministry! Pray about this bold vision and allow Him to work in you and through you. He will show you your next right step. Isaiah 30:21 NIV, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’.”
Learn more about how Orange is helping align the church and home and build stronger parent strategies.