Thursday, July 2, 2015

Partnering with parents - part 1

"Partnering with parents." 

We use that phrase in our children's ministry. 

What does it mean?

Well I can tell you what it means as a Children's Ministry Director. 

It means having consistent small group leaders, 
the same hours,
every Sunday
for the entire school year. Because this is the best way for our children and parents to feel safe, to connect, to feel welcome and accepted, with a leader who is faithful and invests their heart and their time to care about each child and family in their small group. 

It means using curriculum that meets each child where they are 
at each age 
and developmental level 
so that they don't just adopt their parents faith and then lose it along the way 
but instead transition from believing what they are told, to understanding, choosing and living out their own, authentic faith and relationship with Christ.

It means providing environments where kids are allowed to 
be loud 
and ask questions, because this is how they are made and this is how they learn and grow.

It means finding and training and inspiring leaders to understand that EVERY child is made in the image of God, so that for at least the one hour per week they are here, they have a place where 
they see and are shown God's love for them, 
they are welcome and accepted,
they learn to give and receive grace,
they are valued and cared about.

It also means being intentional and consistent as parents and leaders about letting our junior high and high school students serve alongside our dedicated adult leaders now, so that they realize 
they can lead and make a difference today, 
not someday when they are "grown up". 
If we show them how and let them lead in areas where they are gifted now, 
they transition seamlessly from student leaders to adult leaders because they already know how. 
They learn that they are important and capable and God can work through them just as they are, instead of stalling when they finally become adults because they have been on the outside waiting to get in for so long that the steps they need to take to be a leader are overwhelming and they remember the feeling of being kept out more than what it felt like to want to serve.

This all works best when small group leaders and parents 
make the effort to communicate,
pray for each other and their children,
reach out to each other when there is a crisis or significant change in the life of the family, good or bad, so that they can comfort and pray with or encourage and celebrate with the child together.

When small group leaders and parents recognize their children's interests and gifts, then reach out to get them connected with a leader in that area of ministry as they enter junior high so that they learn what it feels like to serve, 
to think and care about someone besides themselves, 
to stop thinking about their own needs and problems for a while 
and care about the needs and spiritual growth of their small group, their church and their community.

As a leader I am passionate about this philosophy because as a parent I have proof that it works.
I will share those examples in my next post. Partnering with parents - part 2.

Until then - if you are not already here consistently during the same hour each Sunday I encourage you to change that starting this week. 
If you have not reached out to, or even met your child's small group leader, I encourage you to make that happen this Sunday.
If you or your junior high school or high school student is not serving already, call or email me and I will help you find out where there are opportunities in our church and community to start now.

We are better together,

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