When my wife sees an expensive piece of furniture or decorative item for our house, I have a humorous response that always pops out. I look over the object and quickly reply, “They want $_____ for that? I could make that!” This always draws a laugh from my wife because she knows my lack of skills in the craftsman department. But in the discussion, I always bring up the fact that I could do it if I just had the right tools. I’m not sure that I wouldn’t fail, but I would definitely have the confidence to try if I just had the right tools.
Parents are looking to the church for the right tools to do their job with confidence.
I’ve never met a parent who didn’t care about the spiritual condition of their child. But I have met parents who do not feel equipped for the job as spiritual leader. There is a great opportunity for the church to partner with parents in developing a plan for the spiritual upbringing of children. But that’s harder than it seems.
According to the 2010 State of the Church and Family Annual Report (Barna & Rethink Group) 72% of churched and 46% of unchurched parents said that the church would be a good helper in developing a plan for raising their child. This statistic shows great opportunity for the church. Parents are looking to the church for the right tools. However, less than half (45%) of parents said that they received “very clear” expectations on parenting from the church. Only 27% of unchurched parents with recent church experience said that the church clearly communicated its expectations of parents. We have a great opportunity to equip parents as spiritual leaders, but we are failing to clearly communicate the essentials of Biblical parenting.
It’s time to stop talking about the importance of leading a child’s spiritual development, and start equipping parents with resources that will help them meet that goal. I’ve been guilty of thinking that I just needed to convince the parents of the importance of their role. But they already understand the importance. They are screaming at the top of their lungs, “We understand the importance of our role. We want to be the spiritual leader for our child. We want to do it, but we need the right tools for the job.”
The 2010 State of the Church and Family Annual Report says it like this:
Almost half of all parents say they have no plan in raising their kids; they simply do the best they can. And even among the parents who say they have a plan in mind to help their child become what they desire, you might wonder whether their plan is well thought out or cohesive. This is a great opportunity for leaders to speak into the lives of parents. If we actually have a clear and compelling approach to helping families, this is a chance to help families realize more is possible. (p. 34)
Some great ways to equip parents with tools might be:
- sermon series on parenting that highlights the methods/tools your church uses to create a partnership between church and home
- small groups or discipleship classes for parents that focus on parenting for each stage of development (preschool, elementary, preteen, jr. high, high school, college)
- regular scheduled meetings for all staff/volunteer leadership of family ministry (preschool—college) to talk about integrated strategy
- compile a list of books, articles, blogs, sermons, etc that would be helpful for parents
- shared experiences for parents and children/teens
This list is by no means exhaustive. It will be different for every church, but it is always better to do something rather than nothing.
What is your strategy for equipping parents with the right tools to be spiritual leaders?
(2010 State of the Church and Family Annual Report is available at The Rethink Group Store.)