By Julie Redmond Donavan
North Shelby Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.
As you probably know, being a parent is not easy. Parents are stretched to their furthest boundaries with work, children’s extracurricular activities, school, appointments, family get-togethers, friends and house chores. Not everyone makes church a priority, so when people do attend let’s take notice and encourage them. How can you do this as a teacher?
Consider these ways to minister to parents with young children.
Give them a date night or a few hours to relax.
Some families cannot afford a babysitter or may not know anyone to stay with their children, so offering a date night for parents can be a huge blessing. Provide this ministry once a month, once a quarter or even once a year and the parents will adore you for it. For example, each year our children’s ministry provides a night out for young families in the church, normally close to Christmas. This provides parents with a date night as well as time to catch up on Christmas gifts. Another option is providing a weekend day or weekday night for free time for parents; offer it at no cost, and it can provide an escape. The same security measures you use on Sunday should be applied to every event.
Be their cheerleader.
As a teacher, volunteer, children’s minister or children’s director, you can be parents’ biggest cheerleader. Provide breakfast once a month before Sunday School for young families. Write notes to parents telling them they are doing a great job (make each note as personal as possible). Give small gifts to support and encourage them as Christian parents.
Keep in constant communication.
With social media, so many ways of communicating exist today. This can be a good thing. Personally, I wish everyone used only one avenue of communication, but, of course, that is not the world we live in. Don’t rely on only one way to share information. Instead, if your information is important, find every means at your disposal to get your news out. Use Facebook, announcement slides, Instagram, email, Twitter, text, your state Baptist newspaper or go “old school” with “snail mail” or distributing them on Sunday. You have to constantly keep Bible studies or events in front of your parents because so many other things are on their calendars. Try to think of all the information a parent would want. While church may be important to them, they also have activities such as work, school, baseball or ballet consuming their time. Constant and consistent communication is great for parents, and they will appreciate the information you keep in front of them. Discover what form of communication parents prefer by giving them a short survey listing all the available methods. This can let you know how to best reach them.
Also, inform parents about what you are teaching and how you are being intentional. Since parents should be the number one teacher for their children about Jesus and the Bible, you can help them talk to their children about what you are teaching while they’re at home.
Many parents are dealing with struggles and wounds you cannot see. Letting them know you care for them and their children means more than you will ever know. There are so many ways you can minister to parents with young children. I have no doubt, with your creative mind, you will be able to show God’s love to the parents in your ministry. Assemble your team with a calendar and future plans and list ways you can practice some of these examples, along with some of your ideas.