What’s the best time to begin partnering with parents? It may be before kids are even born. Cornerstone Church in Maumee, Ohio, has discovered the impact that’s possible when it ministers to expectant parents, and the result has been amazing. Here’s what they’ve learned.
3 Reasons Prenatal Ministry is Important
1. Prenatal ministry is prayerful and practical.
First, Cornerstone’s team contacts expectant families on a monthly and then weekly basis throughout the pregnancy to pray for the child and his or her parents. Once the baby is born, they celebrate the occasion by announcing the arrival of the baby, delivering gift baskets, and preparing meals or giving restaurant gift cards.
2. The ministry encourages and equips new parents.
Following the child’s birth, the ministry sends audio messages on digital files, created by their pastor’s wife, designed to encourage and equip new parents as they sow into their child’s spiritual life.
3. Prenatal ministry builds bridges to children’s ministry.
After the family is settled, the ministry invites parents to participate in a parent dedication, followed by a nursery reception and a family portrait. Parents get a tour of the nursery and meet ministry leaders. Cornerstone Church works hard to ensure there are many bridges of partnership built early that’ll bear fruit later.
What Can You Do
You might be thinking, Wow! We could never do all of these things in our context. Maybe not—but what could you do? Think about the impact you could have with expectant parents in your ministry.
Consider the baby girl who was diagnosed with heart complications and needed open-heart surgery before she was 6 months old. The team from Cornerstone walked with her and her family during this difficult time and was there for them prayerfully and practically. They made hospital visits and stayed with the family the day of the surgery. They prepared meals for the family. And when the family spent the holidays in the hospital, Cornerstone took Christmas to them. This little girl is now 1 year old.
As this little girl prepares to take her first steps, consider how expectant parents in your ministry are receptive to taking their “first steps” in learning how to invest in their child’s faith journey. Don’t wait for a child to be born; start partnering with parents to reach the next generation for Jesus before their child arrives.
Phil Bell is a husband, father, writer, and the family life pastor at Hope Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. His new book is Team Up! The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering With Parents.
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