Oftentimes, a feeling of frustration tends to plague children’s ministers, as it feels like they do all they can to create a different kind of environment that is welcoming, open, and connected. If you still feel like your church has a distance between the parents and ministry leaders, you might need to reassess your approach.
A partnership involves more than connection and bonding — it requires both parents and ministry leaders to be on the same page, continuing the same education when at home or with the ministry. Keep reading for some of the best tips aboiut creating an environment that allows true partnership between parents and kids’ ministry leaders.
Facilitate open conversation
The most crucial element of creating an environment that encourages partnership is open church communication channels. If parents don’t have the means to share their thoughts, feelings, or concerns, they would be unable to collaborate with kids’ ministry leaders more than just on a surface level.
Weekly newsletters are a great church communication idea to keep parents in the loop of what’s going on and create a sense of community among the families of your church. Include the kids' achievements, useful resources, and take-home worksheets that encourage at-home learning. It will also provide a conversation starter for ministry leaders and parents to forge connections.
Hand over the reins
Try a little experiment and hand the reins over to the parents entirely. At your next congregational meeting, give the ministry back to the parents, and offer your services to volunteer for them. Explain that for a partnership to work, it has to be equal. Parents can’t sit back and simply do what’s expected — they must participate and get involved.
Although this conversation might be a bit shocking to some parents at first, use it as a route into a bigger discussion about essential thoughts about the ministry. These could include things like: How does the ministry help/hinder you as a parent? What could the church do better? What would you do if you were in my position as leader?
Make intentional decisions together
A partnership is an active thing, so make sure you decide the details together. Give parents a central role in choosing the specifics of this partnership, as it is as much theirs as it is the ministry’s. Start this discussion by asking questions like: What do you expect from us as ministry leaders? What aspects of parenting do you struggle with? How can we help your family?
This can lead to more specific questions about the roles of both the parents and church so everyone can discuss their opinions constructively. Give parents an insight into the children’s ministry you are thinking of using for their kids and even ask them to vote on which one they would prefer. When they have an active role in the decisions made, they will feel more like part of the team.
Create check-ins together
Instead of informing the parents of your ministry that you will have bi-weekly in-person check-ins, ask them what works best for them. Why not try following the framework suggested in the book Growing Churches Young by Kara Powell to increase engagement? It outlines that daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly touch-points boost parental engagement.
Opening the conversation about what works best for parents shows that you value their opinions and schedules too. It could mean incorporating a five-minute daily prayer for parents, a weekly newsletter, monthly parent training, and annual parent-leader conferences to boost parent-ministry communications.
Use church apps in ministry
Apps for churches are changing the game of how communication, organization, and standardization are received. Not only do they make your life easier by taking care of timetables and access to curriculum, they also provide a channel for parents to effortlessly reach out to church leaders (and vice versa).
Think Orange has changed the game with apps designed to bring parents and children’s ministry together. The Orange Apps help church volunteers to stay on track while providing a portal for parents to stay involved in their kid's journey, complete with daily reminders and updates.
Invite parents to volunteer
What better way to keep parents close than having them right there with you in the ministry? Offer parents volunteering opportunities so they can serve directly from within the ministry rather than keeping them looking in from the peripheries. Create an open environment where parents feel enthusiastic about getting involved.
Instead of the typical chore-style tasks assigned to parents like driving kids to events or organizing meals, let them really use their skills. If they have the time to commit to getting involved, start parent volunteer roles like mentoring positions, small group leadership, or even classroom assistant.
Connecting with parents at church and moving from traditional ministry toward partnership isn’t always easy. As the dynamics are adapted and more is asked of the parents than before, there may be some pushback. The most important thing you and your kids’ ministry can do is be open, honest, and understanding. Let parents know why this is the better option for their kids while keeping in mind that not all families can offer the same.