- Item #1: Find better ways to deliberately connect with parents
- Item #2: Seek stronger ways to intentionally build leaders
- Item #3: Get the leadership on board
- Item #4: Do a better job at kid relationships.
There is little or no question among children's ministers that the parents have the primary responsibility for the spiritual upbringing of their children. Churches have addressed this belief in a variety of ways, most notably by implementing some form of "family ministry" (a term which, in itself, is not completely defined). But no matter how it is approached, there is no question that parents are vitally important to a children's ministry.
I believe I had a very good relationship with the majority of parents in our children's ministry. Hugs, handshakes, high-fives, notes of encouragement, positive feedback, and even negative feedback that some parents brought to me directly in order to deal with it in a constructive way--all these were part of my life as the pastor of these parents' kids. I feel I was well-liked by most of the parents.
So when I was told that most of the parents didn't like what I was doing, it crushed me. I found out later that there were actually only a couple of parents that complained, but still! Being ever the student, I asked "what could I have done better?" Like all areas of ministry, I was growing in this particular aspect. Two practices come to mind:
- I quit helping with "take-down" until the kids were gone. That way I could greet parents and interact with the kids after our Sunday morning festivities were over (I posted about this here).
- I went out in the main foyer and began to interact with families there. It was a "chance" happening, but one that I felt exploring on a regular basis (and I wrote about this here).
- Call or visit parents regularly. While I did this, it was way too random. I need a plan to (here's that word again) deliberately contact the moms and dads.
- Be more purposeful in "outside of ministry" activities. I bypassed a lot of opportunities just because of my schedule. But I have to ask myself, "was I really that busy?" Again, I need to deliberately do these things.
- Family participation events. I have to confess to being a little soured on this, because the last time we held a "family participation event", not only was it poorly attended, but a few parents walked out because they didn't want to participate! But it may be worth exploring some more...after all, I don't know everything! :-)
- Form a "parent support group." This is sort of an ecclesiastical PTA. They would pray for, help, and be the loudest cheerleaders for the children's ministry, as well as deflect criticism that might hurt the ministry.
- Create opportunities for parent training. Maybe a once a quarter video series or guest speaker.