Start Partnering with Parents Today
If we want to effectively partner with parents, we need to understand who they are and what they are facing. Here are 10 characteristics of today’s parents to keep in mind:
- 80% of church-attending parents of 5- to 14-year-olds feel like the children’s ministry at their church is making some type of long-term difference in their child’s life.
- The majority of preteen kids are being raised by millennials who were born somewhere between 1981 and 1996.
- Technology has surrounded our kids since before they were born. 46% of millennial parents said they posted a picture of their youngest child either in the womb or before the baby was 1 day old, compared with 10% of Generation X parents.
- Parents today have a greater desire to invest in their children. As a result, they tend to want to spend a lot of time with them and are likely to be child-centric, much more so than in the 1960s.
- According to George Barna’s latest research with the Cultural Research Center, 67% of parents of preteens claim to be Christian, but only 4% of those parents have views consistent with Scripture.
- 75% of churched parents believe children’s ministry should address current events, social topics, mental health or potentially difficult subjects.
- ⅖ of churched adults, including those with children-ministry-aged kids, say the church, church leaders and church services for kids are very influential on children.
- Half of the parents you serve believe the church should be the primary location of child discipleship — even though the average child only attends 1.7 times per month.
- 39% of churched parents of 5- to 14 year-olds indicate their child has a meaningful relationship with an adult of their church.
- A significant majority of American parents (71%) … do not consider raising children with a strong religious faith to be very important.
*For a list of sources for these statistics, please see this Understanding Parents printable.
Partnering with Parents
What does it practically look like to partner with parents? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. You can’t serve a community you don’t know. Start by getting to know your parents. Ask them what they need and how you can serve them by starting a conversation or sending a survey. Identify gaps and help them where they need it the most.
2. Disciple the disciplemaker. Many of the parents in your church may have no idea what it means to be discipled. When you help a parent belong, believe and become you are setting them up to successfully help their children do the same! You won’t have time to disciple every parent in your ministry, but you can encourage them to join a community group or Bible study, or help them find a spiritual mentor.
3. Start building a team. We know every child in our ministry will benefit from a team of believers pouring into them. This team will consist of both leaders in the church and loving, caring adults the parents intentionally place in their child’s life. To help identify the leaders influencing the child on your team, check out the Dream Team PDF.
4. Provide biblically rich and easy-to-use resources. Remember, every parent is coming to you from a different place. It may be tempting to overwhelm them with resources. Be specific and intentional with what you share, and curate resources for the families you serve.
5. Help parents talk about tough topics. Did you know 75% of churched parents want your help discussing current events, social topics, mental health and other potentially difficult subjects? According to Children’s Ministry in a New Reality, parents are especially concerned about bullying, loneliness and social media, and are eager for your help addressing those topics.
Host a Family Faith Night! How do you get to know your parents and meet them where they are? Host a Family Faith Night to talk about tough topics, introduce resources and figure out what your parents need most. Whether you meet once a month, once a quarter, or once a year, in-person or online, find ways to partner with parents and build a team around every child in your ministry.
The Result of Time Well Spent
If we don’t make increased relational equipping of parents and volunteers a non-negotiable in how we spend our time, we will continue to share the “parents are the primary” message, but in terms of action few will be trained and equipped.
We hope these exercises have helped you see the potential you have to do more for the kingdom than you initially thought. And that evaluating your schedule periodically and making small tweaks to it can result in an increased return on your investment. But if you’re serious about spending your time well to do what’s most important — for yourself, your family and those you disciple — it takes commitment.
Committing to making changes might feel overwhelming and daunting. If so, your next step might simply be to pray and ask God to help show you how to be more effective for the kingdom. If you haven’t had the time to work through the exercises in this resource, commit to spending one hour per week to slowly work through them.
We’ve provided you with commitment statements, below. Take your time before filling them out until you can be true to your vision for how you want to most effectively use your time to make disciples. When you’re ready to make a commitment, fill out the statement and hang it somewhere where you’ll regularly see it and be reminded of your objective.
I will invest (x increased) hours per (week, month, quarter, year) in building relationships so that I will increase my effectiveness in discipling children.
I will invest (x increased) hours per (week, month, quarter, year) in prayer so that I will increase my effectiveness in discipling children.
I will invest (x increased) hours per (week, month, quarter, year) in discipling/mentoring so that I will increase my effectiveness in discipling children.
I will invest (x increased) hours per (week, month, quarter, year) in equipping parents and volunteers so that I will increase my effectiveness in discipling children.
Thank you for your commitment to child discipleship. Remember, we are here with you every step of the way.