Earlier this year, we shared an overview of Crossing Life’s CheckPoints here on Kids Ministry 101. We know that many churches are looking for ways to strengthen their partnership with parents. Thinking about some of the “checkpoints” that most children and families pass through, we want to continue to expand our conversation about these checkpoints. As you partner with families during some of these checkpoints, you will be able to provide opportunities to help parents recoup, reevaluate and realign strategies, and be refreshed for family life. We’ve already dug into Checkpoints #1 a little more. Let’s turn our attention to Checkpoint #2: First Steps.
Checkpoint #2 – First Steps
Moving up to “Big Church”—Moving from an activity-based preschool classroom to a stand-sit routine of congregational, corporate worship can be a difficult checkpoint for young children to pass through, not to mention for parents to navigate.
- Consider preparing “welcome to worship” bags for preschoolers who are transitioning into big church. This bag may contain “quiet” items for the child to use during worship such as blank paper, crayons, washable markers, chenille stems, and so forth.
- Some churches create a activity-based listening guide that connects to the sermon or worship theme each Sunday to help engage older preschoolers and younger kids.
- Strategically train and encourage parents and caregivers as you remind them that children learn by observation, so they will learn how to worship by watching adults participate in worship. Also encourage parents that it is OK if their children do not sit perfectly silent during worship. Guide them in ways to create a family environment where kids can ask questions about what is happening in worship.
Learning to Read—Sometimes parents do not naturally make the connection between their child learning to read and reading the Bible. This could be because the Bible is sometimes viewed as a difficult book to read. But what better story to capture the hearts of children than God’s story as little ones are beginning to read?
- Partner with parents to celebrate this checkpoint.
- Consider celebrating this checkpoint with a meaningful Bible presentation. If your budget allows, your church may purchase an age-appropriate Bible for each kindergartner or first grader. If your budget doesn’t allow or if you prefer to help parents choose their own Bible, guide parents in knowing what kind of Bible would be most appropriate to choose for their child. Lifeway offers several options of age-appropriate Bibles at lifeway.com/bibles.
Discovering Faith class—This one could be part of this checkpoint or the Checkpoint #3 or even both. It is fairly common for parents to quickly ask a Kids Pastor or Lead Pastor to baptize their child as soon as he or she begins asking questions about salvation or baptism. As we run alongside parents, encourage them to be discerning in these conversations. Being careful to not fall into either trap of “she’s too young” or “can we baptize her tomorrow?” There is wisdom in listening to a child’s parents in determining whether their child is ready for baptism, but having a checkpoint in your ministry to equip parents to ask good questions of their child will give them greater confidence in not rushing to baptism.
- Provide a discovering faith class to allow children and/or parents to learn more about becoming a Christian. This class could be child-only, parent-only, or parent-child together. The goal is to help answer questions both kids and parents have about following Jesus.
Other checkpoints may fit into this category too. Maybe this has helped you start or continue thinking about ways you can partner with parents during this transitional checkpoint. 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. There are two pages in this document. 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.
Of course, this is not a comprehensive list of ways to partner with parents during this phase of life. What other partnerships you would add to this checkpoint?
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.