Family Events Build a Community of Parents

One school reinvents family-friendly ministry with the help of CTA events

by Alison Zeller

Nine years ago, St. John’s Lutheran Church and School in Arnold, Missouri, embarked on a journey that would drastically shift their ministry focus. Leaders from the church and school went through a training program offered by the Family Friendly Partners Network.

“The training and collaboration we received through that program taught us to offer information out to people instead of having people come here to our physical location,” said Diane Caughlan, director of the school’s early childhood program.

Diane lead the effort to implement this new ministry concept in the preschool classes at St. John’s. Prior to the Family Friendly program, the preschool offered two traditional classes - 20 children in a full-time class and 20 children in a part-time class. Then, with their renewed focus on outreach, flexibility, and family-friendly options, Diane and the leaders at St. John’s added classes and grew the program to 80 children.

“We intentionally wanted to make more of the program,” said Diane. “The revised structure allowed us to minister to more families and kids. Really, it doubled our ministry.”

One integral part of Diane’s renewed focus is working with parents. “We want to be partners with families,” she said. “We want to give them the materials and ideas they need. We want to equip and encourage them to share faith with their children.”
Diane recently found that taking advantage of CTA’s downloadable events is the perfect way to connect with parents and young children. She hosted four family events during the 2017–18 school year and has six events planned for this year.

“CTA materials are so relevant to our kids’ age groups,” said Diane. “The downloadable events allow us to offer more family teaching opportunities with minimal work. The work is all done for us! The event guides are full of great ideas and we make small tweaks to make each event our own.”

For each event, Diane likes to add a parent education piece. Her goal is that each family walks away with two ideas that touch them and inspire them to share faith with their children. For example, events this year will focus on Christian service, behavior in church, family traditions, and child safety.

“The goal of our events is to create a community of parents,” said Diane. “We want the families to have a chance to meet and interact and even to share stories of parenting struggles. CTA’s downloadable events help us provide a safe space and opportunity for parents to learn, go home, and be ready to answer the question: ‘Where do we go from here?’”

The first months of 2019 offer several great opportunities for hosting family events! Think about planning an event for Valentine’s Day, Easter, or spring break. Visit to see all the kids’ event outlines or call 800-999-1874 if you’d like a customer service representative to help you find the right theme for your ministry!

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