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Super, Natural Ways to Connect With Parents

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Connecting with parents isn’t as daunting as you think. In fact, as children’s ministry leaders, you’re already equipped with superpowers you may not even realize! Keep reading to discover three dynamite, super practical, super natural ways to relationally reach parents of kids in your sphere of influence. Learn to harness what YOU do best!

Jesus gives us a clue how:

“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children” (Matthew 19:14).

This verse is an all-time favorite for kidmin leaders because it inspires us. Why? We love kids!

When I think about that Scripture passage, I wonder about the kids’ parents. They saw Jesus welcome and value their kids firsthand. What did they think about Jesus’ ministry to their children? Not only did Jesus’ love for children speak to the children, but through the children to their parents. The parents weren’t the only ones who loved their kids—Jesus did, too!

Over the past few years, we’ve heard a steady drumbeat of parents’ vital role to be the spiritual leaders in their homes. And it’s true. No one influences the number of hours in a child’s lifetime more than mom or dad. Yet your role is important, too. No one commands the unique role you play.

Connect with parents by embracing your unique role.

Perhaps you were called to children’s ministry because you love kids—and now feel intimidated because you’re supposed to reach parents, too. Never fear, you’re probably already doing what parents need from you the most.

So, without adding one more ministry to-do to your already-packed plate, simply don your “superhero cape”—the one in your closet that reminds you of your love for Jesus and others. And then, without adding headaches, mega tasks, new programs, apps, and strategies (and, and, and…), simply embrace your relational Jesus-style heart and love for kids.

As a children’s ministry kid-lovin’ superhero, you’ll find connecting with parents is more natural than you think. There’s an old saying that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Kidmin leaders can say, “The way to our church’s parents is through their children.”

So put into action these three practical, natural ways to connect with parents—through their kids! This dynamite way uses your Jesus-powered abilities. You can Thank. Notice. Trust. Just remember TNT! Then, have a blast!

T—THANK Parents

Thank God for parents! Parents and children’s ministry leaders are already on the same team. You both love children and want the best spiritual experience for them. So don’t expend negative energy complaining or angsting about what parents lack or don’t do. Just think—they got their kids to church! That alone shows they care. Give thanks!

A new book of in-depth research presents how families pass their religion to the next generation. It reveals how much parents really do value their partnership with you and your church in forming their kids’ connection to spiritual growth.

In the book Handing Down the Faith, professors of sociology, Christian Smith and Amy Adamczyk, say, “Most parents see themselves, rather than their congregations, as primarily responsible for the religious acculturation of their children. They do so in part because many have chosen their congregation for practical reasons, they have a lot of confidence in their grasp of religion, and they want to be involved in all aspects of their children’s lives including their religious development.”

According to the research, parents do take responsibility, but also appreciate the support given by their church. Parents believe churches contribute to “providing religious education, helping to make religion fun, and transmitting cultural traditions.”

Give thanks! As a ministry leader, parents do want and need you, your support, and your encouragement. Thank God for kids’ parents in your personal prayers, thank parents in person for bringing their children to your church, and don’t forget to genuinely thank each child for coming.

N—NOTICE Parents’ Kids

The skill of “noticing” truly unleashes your special and natural Jesus superpower. You already love kids. What kids say and do bring you joy. Their playfulness, curiosity, forgiving nature, and unconditional love may have drawn Jesus to children, too! So as you lead, be sure to notice kids, then tell their parents. Here’s how:

Watch each child in your care.

Observe what brings them joy or frustration. What interests do they gravitate toward? If you’re in charge of a lot of kids, recruit others to join in this fun sleuthing expedition!

Ask kids questions.

Call kids by name—even if you let name tags help you—and be curious about kids’ lives. Get to know them better through open-ended questions, like these! “Sara, (headed to the crayons and paper), what are your favorite things to draw?” Or “Javier, (wearing sports team colors) looks like you’re a football fan. Tell me about your favorite team.”

Then, tell parents what you notice.

Here’s where noticing gets good! Nothing warms a parent, grandparent, or caregiver’s heart more than someone seeing something positive in their child. Just like when Jesus used Mary’s name in the garden or when he named Peter “the rock,” you can do the same for kids.

Now, it’s effortless to notice the “easy” kids. “I admire how Cierra uses her artistic talents during crafts.” “I see Luke really is a leader when it comes to games.” It’s more difficult, yet even more powerful, when a child is a handful. But you can do it! You might say, “I admire how Cooper is so exuberant,” or “Anna has such a kind heart when someone is left out.” Speak the positives you notice—I promise they’re there! Tell parents personally. Write it. Email it. Whatever works for you. It can even be one sentence. You’ll discover this skill comes in handy in all sorts of relationships!

T—TRUST in Talking (Note the Bonus T!)

First, trust the Holy Spirit to use your choices of programming and curriculum to spark the most powerful and surprising tool: talking about faith. When it comes to matters of faith, conversation is crucial to integrating a lifelong relationship with Jesus. If families compartmentalize faith-talk to “Get in the car we’re going to church now,” well…that just doesn’t count.

In Handing Down the Faith, Smith and Adamczyk say:

“Parents regularly talking to their children about religious matter during the week has a very powerful association with the children growing up to be religiously committed and involved.”

“…People usually talk about what they care about, whether it be sports, music, or romantic relationships…normally talk about something indicates that it matters to the talker.”

You can help faith-filled homes converse about God naturally. It’s not necessarily about reading a Bible story or going through planned devotion. Rather, it’s about encouraging family members to talk about how their friendship with Jesus matters every day.

“When parents talk naturally and substantially about religion and its place in life throughout the week, that effectively indicates to children that, in the mix of life’s many priorities and values, this stuff matters a lot.”  

Faith is like a second language.

Smith and Adamczyk refer to talking naturally about faith. Like teaching kids a “second language.” Similar to families who delight in their preschoolers learning to count in Spanish or speak Mandarin, we can provide the “second language” of faith to our children.  Through repetition of Bible truths, real-life practicality, involving kids the earlier the better, we help make “God talk” natural.

Make it easy to talk about faith.

That’s where your curriculum choice comes in. Through Group’s proven R.E.A.L. approach, kids have something to talk about. This R.E.A.L. Learning philosophy focuses on creating ministry that’s Relational, Experiential, Applicable, and Lifelong.

One of my favorite stories reveals the power of Group’s R.E.A.L. Learning. An incredulous mom called a church upset they’d taken her preschooler on a boat without her permission. Confused, the staffer knew they’d sponsored no boat trip, then finally realized the Sunday school class taught the lesson of Jesus calming the storm. The memorable painter’s taped boat shape on the floor became an imaginary “real” ride with Jesus in the boat! Even a preschooler couldn’t not talk about what she did at church!

Fly take-home papers home.

Simply Loved curriculum embraces the love of child’s play with a take-home flyer literally meant to “fly” home as a paper airplane. The flyer carries the day’s Bible point, Bible story, a note from Jesus, and question to talk about (“practiced” in class for kids to take the lead and ask at home), plus a fun “flyer” activity to reinforce the Bible point at home. See for yourself with this FREE download!

Equip kids with memorable Bible points.

Group curriculum and VBS are famous for one daily Bible point each lesson. All experiences in each lesson reinforce one clear, kid-friendly point that emphasizes the “why” behind the Bible lesson.

One dad tells of looking for a church for his family’s young daughters. They happened upon a church that uses Group curriculum, and when asked the ubiquitous question “what’d you learn today?” the girls could instantly say, “God is always with me.” According to this dad, his daughters’ reply made that church the “winner.”

Compare their responses to the typical, “David and Goliath” or worse, “I don’t know.” There’s a difference! And to make a difference at home, kids need to not only know Bible stories, but they also need to truly experience what stories show us about God and why living as his child matters in everyday life.

Watch for God.

My favorite super natural way to include faith conversation at home is “God Sightings.” This method costs nothing, can be done anytime, anywhere, is lots of fun, and exercises your “noticing” muscles. A God Sighting is evidence of God at work around you. To find God Sightings, simply and naturally train kids to look for what God is doing all around. What do you see, hear, taste, smell, touch that reminds you of God? Preschoolers to grandparents can do this—it works for all ages!

Have a blast hearing from families as they make talking about God—super natural!

So children’s ministry friends, what do you already, naturally do that truly connects with parents? You TNTThank. Notice. Trust (in Talking). Plus, Ephesians 1:19-20 promises the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is working in you! So trust Jesus!

For a simple and encouraging way to speak God’s Word into kids and adults, check out Notes From Jesus. And for a family-friendly version, check out Notes From Jesus for Families, releasing this fall! Want more family ministry tips? Check out these ideas!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links which means we may earn referral fees if you make a purchase after clicking on a link that leads to Amazon.

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