Consider how your family ministry events might be more effective
using this TIE Test, which simply asks, "How could this activity
Train, Involve, or Equip parents as primary faith influencers? How
could it Train, Involve, or Equip our church to embrace our role
with spiritual orphans?" Then write down how each activity might
look different after the TIE Test.
TRAIN: Before or during a children's ministry
activity, train parents and how to reinforce the spiritual truths
that participants are learning. Such training is not an add-on;
it's every bit as important as the event itself. Conduct the
training at a time when as many parents as possible can be present.
For some churches, this could mean setting aside Wednesday evening
Bible study as a parent-training time during the week of children's
camp. In another context, it might mean developing a training
session for moms or dads immediately after the informational
meeting about the transition from preschool ministry to children's
ministry. Aim the training toward a single, very specific goal. For
example, the training during children's camp might prepare parents
to lead four weeks of faith-talks-one faith-talk each week-during
the month that follows camp. You might even facilitate role-playing
during the session so that parents or Families-in-Faith who have
never led a faith-talk have an opportunity to practice.
INVOLVE: When we invite parents, the point is
typically for them to provide support and security for our
event-that's necessary at times, but it isn't the same as involving
parents. When we involve parents, we design the event so that
parents are necessary for it to work. This may mean organizing
teams by families for recreational times during the event, or it
could include having parents lead small-group devotionals with
their families to conclude the event. And what about the children
whose parents won't show up? That's why "volunteer" families are so
essential to your church's family ministry; without families who
are willing to act as spiritual families for spiritual orphans,
your ministry will end up serving the children who have churched
families rather than those who don't.
EQUIP: It may be that some events can't be
shifted to train or to involve parents. If that's the case, use
those events to equip parents in your church with resources that
recognize their role as faith-trainers in their children's lives.
For example, you might provide parents with a monthly resource list
and some faith-talk suggestions that apply at home what you're
teaching each week in children's church. Or you might develop a
quarterly list of catechism questions and a recommended book that
coordinates with the themes that children are exploring in Sunday
Timothy Paul Jones holds a doctorate in educational
leadership. He's the author of the bestselling books Answers
to the Da Vinci Code and Finding God in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.
See his complete article, "Danger: Family Ministry" in the
September/October 2010 issue of Children's Ministry