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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.

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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.

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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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