by Kristin Schultz
It’s that time of year—time to stash away the snow boots, dust off the flip-flops, and look toward summer! As you think about the kidmin events and activities you will host during the summer months, you are probably considering a variety of factors: budget, volunteers, attendance, and evangelism opportunities, just to name a few. But as you plan, there is a group of people you may be forgetting.
As a children’s ministry leader, you have a front-row seat for the faith development of children. But you’re not the only one who gets to see children grow in their love for Jesus. Their parents are their first teachers, an integral part of the faith journey. It’s incredibly important that you connect and communicate with parents. Together, you can share God’s love and nurture a deep and lasting faith in children!
Why does a parent connection matter?
Children’s faith journeys don’t stop when they go home. Successful spiritual development is a partnership between faith influencers. By communicating with parents, you demonstrate that you are willing to be involved in the life of the whole family. You show your encouragement and support to parents as they seek to raise children who love Jesus and rely on his grace in their lives. A strong church-and-home connection is vital as children realize that God is not just for an hour on Sunday morning, but that he is the source of strength throughout their week and their lives.
When you communicate with parents, you also have the opportunity to learn what is going on during the hours when the kids are not with you. By learning about a child’s triumphs and challenges, you learn what kind of praise or support a family may need. If you can’t meet that need, you have the opportunity to direct a family to community resources that could help.
Regular communication with parents also makes having tough conversations easier. If you’ve been talking with parents about the positive things their child has been doing, you have built a solid relationship. Then, if there’s a time when you need the parents’ help addressing a behavior or other issue, the parents know you value their child and want to do what’s best for their child.
Where do I start?
There are two basic kinds of communication with parents—one-way and two-way communication.
One-way communication involves your sharing information with parents. This tells parents what’s going on so that they can plan ahead and so they can see what their child is experiencing and doing during the time they spend at church. This most often happens through these channels:
- Lesson sheets or crafts that the child takes home
- Written daily reports
- Social media posts
Two-way communication is a dialog between you and parents. Instead of relaying information, you invite parents to be your partners, sharing in the responsibility and the joy of sharing Jesus with their children. Two-way communication is more time consuming and requires more emotional investment, but it’s worth it. This kind of communication happens by
- engaging parents during drop-off and pick-up times;
- starting a Facebook group for your church’s children’s ministry, and encouraging conversation;
- calling or texting parents;
- inviting parents to volunteer in the ministry; and
- engaging with parents who attend the opening or closing sessions of your events.
A good combination of both one-way and two-way communication helps parents feel like they are in the loop and supported. Knowing they are supported, parents are more likely to show that same understanding and encouragement to you.
What do I say?
Parents love their children and want to hear about them! Use these examples to start a conversation:
- Eva prayed for her friend Ian today. I told her she can talk to God any time. You could offer to pray with her tonight before bed.
- Alex was asking some hard questions today about why people get sick and die. We talked about it, but I want you to know that if it comes up later and you have questions, or are having a tough time answering him, you can call or text me. Here’s my number.
- We talked about God’s provision today and Isabella was very engaged in the conversation. On your way home, you could go back and forth naming ways that God provides for your family.
- Thanks for bringing David today. I love having him in class. He’s so curious. Is there any way I can help you talk with him about faith?
Whether you’re chatting with a mom during drop-off, putting together a newsletter, or moderating a Facebook group, connecting with parents takes time and effort. But your investment in building a partnership with parents will pay eternal dividends!
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