We created a Parent Partners program to help parents get involved more easily in our children’s ministry. It’s a great way to recruit parents for children’s ministry.
We actually began our program by changing our sign-in and registration processes. We had parents sign an agreement that they’d participate in our cooperative program, and we gave parents all the options for involvement to check off. Then when the forms were turned in, we placed parents on teams with committed team leaders and teachers.
Each team leader’s job is to match parents’ talents, skills, and abilities to positions on the team where they’ll feel successful. Their value to the team is confirmed with plenty of opportunities to make connections and develop friendships with other team members. Of course, we use background screening checks before placing anyone with children. Parents are placed on teams after they’ve attended our church for several months and have made a commitment to our church as a church home.
It isn’t easy setting up and establishing Parent Partners programs. And it takes a while to change from the Lone Ranger teacher method to a team approach in the classroom. But if you answered yes to any of the questions in the pop quiz, a team strategy could calm your Sunday morning chaos.
7 Benefits to Parent Partner Programs
The following are the benefits of our team-based parent cooperative programs.
1. Leadership Development
There’s a law of leadership that says leaders will always surface. A funny thing happens in classrooms when parents are partnered with other leaders and teachers. Many parents surface as natural leaders or teachers themselves and decide to become part of the teaching or leadership team in our children’s ministry.
2. Personal Discoveries
Often, we find parents have other skills or talents they just never thought about using in conjunction with kids. We have a fabulous creative design group made up of parents who help us whenever we’re decorating classrooms, painting, or having a special event. During our recent building program, we had parents donate thousands of volunteer hours in construction, painting, electrical work, and stage design. Where did these people come from? They were part of our parent cooperative first.
3. Network Recruiting
Teams attract and recruit other people to the ministry for you! A team has far more influence in recruiting than any one person does because team members are in contact with or have relationships with more people. The law of numbers is very clear. Everyone knows a limited number of people. By myself, I am limited, but when teams of people are helping me recruit, the potential is unlimited.
4. Team Training
Because of the large number of people involved in our children’s ministry, we equip our team leaders to train the new people who are added to their teams. In addition, we emphasize the need for team leaders to build up their teams by having social times together, contacting each person by phone or email, and working cooperatively during once-a-month times in the classroom.
In a large church, we constantly have the need to help people connect. A Parent Partners program is the perfect place for this to happen. Once parents are placed on teams, they get to know at least four or five other people in the church. Often, a parent who starts out in the 3-year-old class with his little one ends up staying on that team for years because of the friendship bonds that developed over the course of that first year. The Parent Partners program serves as a valuable tool for connecting new families with the church and for helping them form lasting relationships.
6. One-on-One Attention
Each child gets the special attention, extra hug, prayer for the skinned knee, and other things he or she needs. When kids are in the lobby or the hallways, they’re excited to see so many adults they proudly claim as their “teacher.” Instead of feeling deprived, the children feel blessed to have so many adults who love and care for them.
7. Parent Involvement
With a cooperative system, we’re helping parents fulfill the commandment God gave them to teach their kids. I don’t expect all parents to be gifted teachers, nor are they all going to be administrators or leaders. They can all, however, help with their children’s Christian education at church.
I’ve never met a child who wasn’t excited and ecstatic when his or her parent came into the classroom as part of the team that day. Kids feel like their parents place high value on what they do and learn in class. Parents place high value on the children’s ministry because they see all that’s involved and because they’re part of it. And my core leadership team values parents as an integral part of our success.
Sue Kahawaii is a children’s pastor in Tacoma, Washington.