Archives For partner with parents

On Sunday mornings, the hallways of our kids ministry are bustling. There are parents picking up kids, parents dropping off kids, and just a lot of conversations and connections happening each week.

I’ve found that it’s a great place for me to slow down and be present with families and kids. As families pass in the halls, I’ve heard one question over and over again. The question is:

Did you have fun?

I’m all for fun. I think fun is such an important ingredient to reaching kids, but there is so much pressure wrapped up in that question. ‘Did you have fun?’ implies that our primary focus should be spending 90 minutes entertaining kids. I wonder how I can compete the all the entertainment that kids have at their fingertips, and even more so I wrestle with the conviction that this should not be the measuring stick of Sunday morning. There is so much unnecessary pressure in this question.

This is also no knock against parents. Admittedly, I’ve asked my kids the same question. Every parent wants their kids to enjoy coming to church so that there’s not a battle every Sunday morning. I want to be more focused on how the Gospel connected with the heart and less on how the teacher did or did not entertain for the full 90 minutes. As a pastor, I can’t expect a parent to change the question they are asking until I’ve cast a vision for something greater. The more I heard this question, the more it caused me to think about the question I wish every parent would ask instead.

When a child comes running to the classroom door to head home with a waiting parent, I wish every parent would be excited to ask:

What did you learn about Jesus today?  

This question anticipates that children are learning who Jesus is and all that He has done to seek and save the lost. The immediate inquiry about Jesus means parents are excited to hear how their child is learning the riches of the Gospel. And this question provides our ministries with accountability to keep the message of the Gospel as the central theme to everything we do.

Think about this for a moment: If every parent asked that question, would your kids ministry provide kids with an answer? 

This is still not the predominant question being asked in our hallways, but I’m praying that it would be heard more and more each week. We have tried to explicitly emphasize the Gospel in every aspect of our kids ministry. There are other steps we need to take to get parents thinking and listening for how their child is growing in the Gospel. We will keep working on reaching kids with the Gospel and equipping parents to engage in Gospel-centered conversations with their kids. As we do what is humanly possible, I’m trusting in God and begging Him to fill our hallways with the question I wish every parent would ask.

A recent seminary assignment challenged me to think of the 10 truths that I want to teach my children. Typically, my answer would simply be the GOSPEL, but the assignment made me think more deeply about all that is encapsulated in that word and how I would break it down for my daughters.

The assignment was valuable because it challenged me to define what I believe and get intentional about how I will impress those truths on my children. Here is the list I came up with:

Top 10 Truths to Teach My Children

1. God is Sovereign
Genesis 1, Psalm 103:19, Proverbs 16:4, Isaiah 14; 45
We want our children to know God as supreme creator over all things. We want them to see that He is God and we are not. This must be taught in conjunction with the attributes of God to help them understand the goodness of His sovereignty.

2. God is unchanging and faithful
Hebrews 13:8, Malachi 3:6, Deuteronomy 7:9, 2 Timothy 2:13
We want our children to know that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The same power that we see on display throughout the Bible is in existence today. In the same way, God’s promises always remain true. The promises He has made will always come to fruition. We can trust God’s character and His promises.

3. Sin affects every aspect of my life and your life
Romans 3:23; 5:12; 6:23, Jeremiah 17:9
We want our children to know their depravity and the consequences of sin. We want to be open as parents about our struggle with sin and gratefulness for Christ. We want to set an example of repentance and dependence on Christ for any hope of change.

4. God’s Law shows us our sinfulness and how great our need is for Jesus
Romans 6:23, James 2:10, Romans 7:7, Galatians 3:19-24
We want our children to know that, while we strive to be obedient, we will never be able to obey God’s Law perfectly. The Law only reveals sin and condemns. At the same time, we want our children to see the hope that God graciously provides through Jesus—our salvation.

5. Jesus died in our place to give us the life we never deserved.
John 3:16, Ephesians 2, Titus 3:5, Galatians 4:4, 2 Corinthians 5:21
We want our children to see that Jesus was fully God and fully man, that He faced temptation yet lived a life of perfect obedience, and that He died a sinner’s death in our place so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God! We want our children to know this was an act of God’s grace, a demonstration of His love, and not based on anything we could do to save ourselves.

6. Belief in Jesus means we are adopted as God’s children and now live as a new creation
Ephesians 1, Galatians 4:1-5, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, 1 John 3:1
We want our children to know what it means to fully believe in who Jesus is and what He has done for us. We want them to know that this faith in the finished work of Christ is the sole source of salvation and it means that we live as a new creation—forgiven, adopted, and called out to live as children of God.

7. The Holy Spirit helps believers to grow more and more like Christ.
John 14:26, Romans 8:26, Galatians 5:22-23
We want our children to know who the Holy Spirit is and how He helps us to grow as Christians. We want our children to know the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in believers to make us more like Christ. We want them to seek out friends and future mates that are walking with Christ and show the fruit of the Spirit.

8. God’s Word is true and contains all we need for growing in our faith
Hebrews 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Psalm 119
We want our children to cherish God’s Word and be disciplined in reading it, memorizing it, and applying it to their lives. We want them to see Scripture as sufficient for all issues of life in every season of life. We want to demonstrate a love for God’s Word that our children can emulate.

9. God has given us the Church where we can worship, serve, and grow with other believers.
Acts 2:42, 1 Corinthians 12, Matthew 28:19, Matthew 26:26-28
We want our children to know their gifting and their role in the body of Christ. We want them to be a part of a local body of believers to worship, serve, and grow. We also want them understand Baptism and Communion as part of a believer’s obedience and remembrance of Christ and how each of these sacraments fit into the life of the Church.

10. Jesus is coming back again to complete His work of redemption and restoration
Matthew 24:14, Romans 16:19-20, 1 Peter 3:10-13
We want our children to know that Jesus’ redemptive work is not yet complete but will be made complete when he returns. At that time, He will eternally destroy sin, restore creation to God’s design, and give us new glorified bodies to worship Him eternally.

What truths would you put in your top 10?
How will you be intentional about passing those truths on to your children?

BombBomb Logo Sta

We’ve started using a new company to help with our communication to parents of preteens. It is so stinkin’ cool that I wanted to share it!

BombBomb.com is an email marketing platform that allows you to juice up your emails with the power of video. You can embed HD video, linked documents, text, etc. into the email template. BombBomb will optimize your video for all platforms: desktop, mobile, tablet, etc. This means your video looks its best on whatever device the recipient uses to view it.

Here is the best part for those of us in ministry:

1) It integrates with several church database systems, including Church Community Builder (CCB), FellowshipOne, AccesACS, and ICON systems.

We were sending out parent emails to almost 400 unique addresses that were already saved in Fellowship One. I did not want to have to enter each of those contacts again, and I didn’t have to with BombBomb. They have a really simple integration that allows you to sync your database groups with the email template. It literally took me 2 minutes to transfer the 400 contacts!

2) BombBomb gives you tracking analytics on EVERYTHING!

Here is a snapshot of the Analytics page:

Screen Shot 2012 10 23 at 10.48.32 AM

When you send a traditional email, it’s really hard to know if it’s opened or if the attached documents are ever downloaded. With BombBomb, you can see all of that information. They tell you how many emails were delivered vs. bounced to spam. They tell you how many emails were opened, how many clicks were made on each specific link, how many plays of the embedded video, and how many downloads of attached documents.

In ministry, it’s really hard to gauge success and failures. This data really has helped us to see what’s working and what is not. One thing we quickly realized was that our parents were very likely to watch the video (60%), but few downloaded to attached document (7%). If we want to communicate important info, we now know that it needs to be in the video!

If you’re looking for creative ways to communicate with volunteers or parents, you should definitely check out BombBomb.com. They will create custom email templates for your ministry, and their monthly service fee starts at only $29/month.

Here is how we used BombBomb to communicate our series content with our parents:
(Thanks to Jim Kast-Keat for the “Fifty6 in :56” idea!)

Fifty6 in :56

Parent Meeting

No matter what age group you minister to—children, preteens, or students—parental involvement is essential. Parents need to know about your ministry so they feel confident that it is safe and secure. They also need to know how you will equip them and call them to disciple their sons and daughters.

One of the best ways to communicate vision and strategy with parents is to host a Parent Meeting. Bringing parents together in one room can be very beneficial, but it takes planning to be effective. Here is a basic outline for how to plan your next parent meeting.

Step 1—Invite Parents

Guess what? Parents won’t know about the meeting unless you invite them! Send out an invitation (via print or email) at least 1 month in advance. Give them plenty of notice so that they can make the meeting a priority in their schedule. Try attaching some meeting details to the invite. Let them know what the meeting is about and why it is so important for them to be present. Be careful not to give too much away! The best invite will communicate two things to parents: urgency and mystery.

Step 2—Create a “Wow” Environment

You may only have one chance to connect with a parent, so make it count. Use videos, bulletin boards, or testimonies to highlight what God is doing in your ministry. Make the room comfortable and provide refreshments. Who doesn’t love some warm cookies??

Step 3—Keep Content Limited and Focused

A parent meeting is not the time to try to cover everything you’ve ever wanted to tell parents. Try to focus on one topic that is relevant to your audience. For example, you might have a parent meeting that trains parents on how to have a family devotion or how to share the Gospel with specific ages. Other focused topics might be specific to your ministry vision or strategy. If you need to cover multiple topics with parents, it may be better to consider a parent retreat or a parent discipleship class that meets over several weeks.

Step 4—Leave Room for Discussion

Every group of parents I’ve ever met with has requested more opportunities to talk about issues with other parents. Talking with one another helps parents to get ideas and share their stories. It also helps them to see that they are not alone in their struggles and failures. Encourage parents to break into small groups and discuss the information covered in the meeting. Provide some discussion questions for the parents, and ask them to end by praying for one another in their groups.

Step 5—Provide Action Steps and Follow-Up

When the meeting is over, it will feel like a huge success—mainly because it’s over and one with! However, the true test is whether or not the meeting led parents to take action. Give some specific action steps and ideas for parents during the meeting, and follow-up with them 3-6 months later.

Here’s an example of action steps and follow-up. We hosted a parent meeting last spring on the topic of adolescent transition and sexual purity. At the end of the meeting, we gave parents a copy of Passport 2 Purity to use with their child. We asked parents to schedule a purity weekend with their preteen sometime this year, and then send us testimonies about their weekend once it was complete. It’s amazing to read the emails we’ve already received from families that have taken that step. At 6 months (mid-November), we will follow-up with all parents and remind them about the call to take that step with their preteen. Instead of a one-time meeting, we’ve managed to create a year-round conversation. It’s all about the follow-up!

If you haven’t hosted a parent meeting in your ministry, I strongly encourage you to do so. Parents need to have a major role in your ministry if you want to be effective. Parents have far greater influence and time than anyone in your ministry, so find a way to connect with them and leverage that influence for good!