Baby boomer parents are flocking back to the church. And the
children's ministry is one of the first things they check out when
they visit a new church.
Doug Murren writes in The Baby Boomerang, "We boomer
parents want to know if your churches are ready to invest in our
kids. If we boomers are going to stick around, we are really going
to need your help with our children."
But many parents are sorely disappointed in what they're
"Many of the baby boomers who returned to church after an
extended period of -- i.e., for the sake of their children -- are
now leaving the church again, disappointed that they did not
receive greater benefits for their investment," writes George Barna
in his book What Americans Believe.
What do parents today really need or expect from your Christian
education program? Here are questions parents have of your program
but don't often ask.
TAKING A CLOSER LOOK
Answer these questions to determine if your program meets
parents' expectations. Get parents to complete the "Parent Survey."
Then use the teacher training meeting to determine any changes that
need to be made.
1. Does your commitment to children shine through everything you
2. Is it obvious that your senior pastor really loves kids?
3. Does your program teach children in appropriate age
4. Is your children's program more than just a baby-sitting
5. Are lessons tailored to different learning styles?
6. Do activities and events conflict with or complement the family
activities common to your community, such as soccer or school
7. Will your program support parents in their parenting?
8. Will children be safe in your program?
9. Are teachers motivated to be there, or are they just putting in
10. Do teachers make the Bible come alive for kids?
11. Are kids learning basic biblical content?
12. Does your curriculum make the Bible relevant to kids'
13. Do teachers know more about each child in their class than just
his or her name?
14. Do teachers regularly let parents know what their child is
15. Do teachers give parents insight into how their child is
16. Does the children's minister effectively communicate with
parents on a regular basis?
PROGRAMMING THAT'LL MAKE PARENTS HAPPY
If you want to please baby boomer parents with your children's
ministry, implement these ideas from The Baby Boomerang.
- Make your facilities appealing to kids. Show
parents that kids are a priority in your church by having
kid-friendly, colorful, clean rooms.
- Be visitor-friendly. Make it easy for visiting
families to find where to take their children. Post greeters at key
areas to help bewildered visitors.
- Train teachers. Choose gifted teachers and
then equip them to be their very best. Help them understand what'll
bring the Bible to life for their students.
- Plan innovative activities. Baby boomers love
innovation. Have your greeters wear creative outfits. Plan creative
ways to do old activities. Brainstorm creative new activities. Let
your mind go wild!
- Encourage positive pastoral comments. Murren
never mentions the children's ministry in his church when they need
workers. He waits until the ministry is well-stocked and then asks
the church to show teachers their appreciation. His church gives
out several plaques a year to honor workers.
Debbie Trafton O'Neal is an educator and parenting
specialist in Washington state.