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Most children's ministers want parents to take the lead when it comes to their kids' faith-but how do we help them get there? Most children's ministries aspire to equip parents to become their children's primary faith influencers-but how effective are we-really?
We asked seven very different families to consider four typical approaches to family ministry. Each approach is designed with the end goal of putting parents in the driver's seat when it comes to influencing their children's faith. We asked these parents to evaluate each approach based on where their family is right now and whether the approach would be practical for them. If you've ever wondered if what you do works with parents, read on for an inside scoop.

Model 1: Home-Centered Faith
In this model, parents serve as faith role models for their children. Parents intentionally create numerous areas throughout the family's life to encourage children to seek God. Parents are in the spiritual lead but rely on the church for continued education and training.

What Parents Do

  • Model authentic faith in their everyday lives
  • Attend regular faith-training sessions at church every month
  • Join a small group where the focus is on raising Christian children
  • Incorporate what they're learning into their home environment, guiding children toward forming a relationship with God
  • Follow a plan for increasing children's faith growth that includes regular devotions, Bible study, faith conversations, and prayer
  • Attend church-sponsored related events for families designed to encourage faith growth

What Parents Think

Model 2:
Church as Family
In this model, the church is family, with
fathers leading the way. Family surrounds the church, with no age-and-stage divisions. At the church, there are no nurseries, no children's or youth rooms, and no singles or college groups. The church is a "family of families" focused on faith together. All worship together.

What Parents Do
  • Attend weekly community meals immediately following worship, with children contributing to the meal and gleaning wisdom by listening to adult conversation
  • Place emphasis on strong male leadership in the church and family 
  • Fathers receive extra discipleship along with reading lists and instruction on how to provide spiritual leadership for the home
  • Make faith discipline and prayer top priorities in the home

Model 3:
Spiritual-Growth Specialists
In this model, a church offers high-powered children's and youth ministries, positioning the church as children's spiritual-growth specialists. Parents rely heavily on the weekly program as the core of a child's faith development.

What Parents Do
• Take their children to family-friendly church ministry departments
• See children's and youth ministries as supplemental helps
• Use take-home pages from the curriculum to have faith conversations at home
• Attend special ministry-hosted events designed to connect parents and kids
• Attend occasional parent-training classes



Model 4:
Primary Champions
In this model, parents are God-ordained as the primary champion for developing vibrant faith in their children, and the church is an empowering co-champion. Church teams work to ensure all departments communicate a single parenting strategy to all families. The church team also works to guarantee they aren't exhausting families with excessive programming.




What Parents Do
  • Own being the primary faith influencers of their children
  • Use take-home resources from the curriculum to have faith conversations at home
  • Celebrate common faith milestones with the church, such as baby dedication or first Bibles
  • Participate in training and celebrations to lead their children through spiritual transitions


Overall, this model received the most positive reactions from the families. This was largely due to the emphasis of partnership between church and family, with family as the nucleus of faith growth and development. Once again, time came up as the chief concern.

And there you have it-honest reactions from very different families about some of the most common family ministry models churches are using today. As you consider your approach to family ministry and how you hope to support parents in their role as faith leaders to their children, consider the concerns-and kudos-these families offer. cm

Weigh in with your thoughts on the best ways to help parents become their children's primary faith influencers at
childrensministry.com/primaryfaith.
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