In July 2019, we posted an overview of Crossing Life’s CheckPoints. Partnering with families during the checkpoints of life provides natural opportunities to help parents recoup, reevaluate and realign strategies, and be refreshed for moving forward in family life. Let’s dig into Checkpoint #1: Welcome to the Family a little bit more.
Checkpoint #1 – Welcome to the Family
Birth/Adoption—Whether it’s a family’s first, second, or fifth child, each new addition adds new rhythms and challenges to family life. This checkpoint brings both celebrations and joys along with potential anxiety and challenges. When ministries come alongside families at this checkpoint, parents feel refreshed, valued, and comforted that they are not alone.
- “New Addition” Gift Bag—Consider creating a small gift bag to give to new families when a new baby is born or a child is adopted. This gift bag might include:
- a hand-written encouraging note
- a Christian parenting book
- a restaurant gift card
- calming Christian music CD or code for downloadable music (such as quiet hymns)
- a diaper bag tag
Baby/Parent/Family Dedication—One partnering opportunity that is still quite popular among American churches is the presentation of young children and parents before a congregation for public dedication to the Lord. Consider how you can make this a meaningful experience for parents by:
- providing invitation cards parents can send out to their extended family and friends.
- hosting a dinner or lunch for parents and close family members and friends.
- encouraging parents to write a prayer for their child which incorporates a Bible verse (some churches call this a “life verse”).
- Preparing a gift bag for each family which may include an age-appropriate Bible, a framed certificate or Bible verse, and a letter from you or your pastor to be opened on the day of the child’s salvation or baptism.
- providing additional training, like a class mentioned below, for young parents on God’s expectations for Christian parents.
Parenting class/classes/conference—Parents can easily find themselves living in “survival mode” and allow long-term priorities to fade out of focus. Providing dedicated training opportunities is another helpful resource for expectant parents. Consider offering training on child development and spiritual growth. Parents who participate in these trainings will appreciate the focused effort to be equipped for Christ-centered approach to parenting.
- Utilize technology to connect with and engage parents for training.
- Such training could include:
- theology of biblical parenting
- trust development
- developmental stage characteristics
- the Lord’s Supper
The goal of these checkpoints is to be strategic with the ways churches partner and celebrate with families as they grow. Many parents feel inadequate to spiritually lead their families. When churches “run the race” alongside families, they will feel more confident to embrace biblical principles and wisdom and lead their families toward authentic relationships with God. I encourage you to “run with endurance the race that lies before [you], keeping [your] eyes on Jesus … ” as you “pursue as [your] goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” (Hebrews 12:1-2; Philippians 3:13-14)
Click here for a downloadable Checkpoints PDF to help you share your vision with families. One with the checkpoints we’ve listed in the original post (found here) and one with some blank boxes for your to write in your own.
This is not an attempt at a comprehensive list. What other partnerships would you add during this phase of life?
Jeremy Carroll is the team leader for LifeWay Kids Discipleship Resources. Before coming to LifeWay, he has been active in local church ministry for nearly 20 years in TN, TX, and AL. Jeremy earned a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. A Middle Tennessee native, he and his family live in Murfreesboro, TN.