Here’s a blog I wrote for My Healthy Church: Kids, you can find many great articles and resources on their site.
There are many different models and philosophies for involving parents—Orange, D6, Tru, Legacy, or your own variation of family involvement. The big picture is the need for integration recognized by more and more churches. Honestly, the definition of family ministry is a bit up in the air—but the intent is clear. Parents, grandparents, and primary caregivers need to be considered when your children’s ministry starts making plans for their kids.
There is plenty of information available to you as a leader to help define family ministry. My intent is not to define family ministry. But to incorporate a healthy family ministry into your church, there are few keys I would like to highlight.
1. Change the view of your role
What do you think your role is as a children’s minister? Many children’s leaders think their role is to teach children and in many instances that is part of your job, but your job cannot stop there. How do you fulfill the Ephesians 4:11–13 element of training and equipping workers for ministry? One way you can do this is by seeing the other part of children’s ministry—helping parents become the priest in their home. This mean adding equipping parents to your ministry, not removing the teaching kids at church from your ministry.
2. Don’t assume you know what they need
Churches are great at telling. We aren’t so good at asking. Often we present ourselves as experts knowing exactly what children need in their spiritual development and what resources parents need to work with their kids. In reality, we normally have a plan and invite (expect) parents to come join us. If we want to make space for parents and caregivers, we need to make room for their input. Have you considered asking parents what they need? Perhaps a focus group with a cross section of parents to explore topics and resources they would find beneficial would be a good launching point for making room for parents.
3. One size doesn’t fit all
Parenting today looks different than it did 10 or 15 years ago. Single parents, extended family, adoption, foster care, weekend visits, and so on—we cannot expect one method of family ministry to meet everyone’s needs. We need to think of a variety of ways to involve families. Parenting classes are great, but parenting classes for whom? Moms? Grandparents? Uncles? The liberating thing is that there isn’t a silver bullet—no event can reach everyone, but by offering different options, you can develop an effective ministry to families. Carnivals and family movie nights will reach some; parent’s night out will reach others; classes meet a need; so does a shared family experience. I think if you can create a couple of broad events with one or two focused events throughout the year, you’ll touch far more families than you’ll ever realize.
It’s much like one of my professors said: “It’s not as important what system you have … It is important that you have a system!”