What about parents? Should I try to minister directly to parents? Is there value in building relationships with the parents of the kids I serve? Is that really part of my responsibility?
As a kids ministry leader, these questions may have crossed your mind at some point in your ministry. We would answer “Yes, there is great value to parents, their kids, our ministries, and our churches when we include ministering to and equipping parents as part of our strategy.”
Parents of the kids in our ministries need us to be strategic because they are often too busy to stop and think about parenting strategies. With bloated school, extracurricular, and church schedules, along with the rapid influx of technology threats and an ever-changing social culture, many parents are overly-stressed with their day-to-day responsibilities. This stress can lead to a fear that they are wandering through a completely unknown territory of family life. Too often this fear leads to frustration and spiritual stagnation in parents.
Parents are busy and stressed to the point of spiritual paralysis. We would be wise to come alongside them to help evaluate their role and responsibilities, being extra careful to take a “by your side” posture as we interact with parents. We have the opportunity to remind them of the Bible’s strategic commands related to parenting. For example, the Bible guides us to know that performance is not as important as a transformed heart. In the home, both discipline and teaching should aim at developing a child’s heart to honor both God and the parent. It’s not enough to teach kids to obey and simply feed them biblical facts. Merely gaining more information often only leads to arrogance. Our kids need gospel-transformed hearts to apply knowledge and biblical understanding to their lives through godly wisdom.
Some parents may not realize they are in the middle of these challenges, but many do. The success of parents living out their God-ordained role should motivate us to help parents pause and evaluate their parenting responsibilities.
What might a strategy for parent ministry look like for kids leaders?
- Build relationships with parents.
- Create specific opportunities to meet and build relationships with parents.
- Invite parents to serve alongside you in ministry, so they can get to know you and see your heart for their kids, not just because you need to “fill a volunteer hole.”
- Train yourself to be a source of Biblical wisdom related to parenting.
- Research and study the Scriptures for specific parenting instructions.
- Train parents to evaluate and lead in their homes.
- Research and provide parent training opportunities for parents to be discipled and to equip them with the skills they need to lead their families well.
You may have heard it said that if we are going to effectively reach kids with the gospel, we must also reach their parents. There is great truth to this, especially thinking about long term impact. Parents will benefit and appreciate when others come alongside them to help chart the course and navigate family challenges. As church leaders, we are positioned to do just that, so that both parents and kids can hear and experience the transforming power of the gospel.
For more of this conversation, check out the Kids Ministry 101 podcast: Parent Ministry.