One of the most important things you can do in your ministry is to engage parents.
In our last post, Why People Aren’t Excited About Your Children’s Ministry, we talked about five reasons why there may be a lack of enthusiasm about what you are doing in your Children’s Ministry. Perhaps the most important people you want enthusiastic about your ministry are parents. But if these five things are characteristic of your ministry, forget about it. Fix them first!
Likewise, and deeply related to those five things, there are things that we can do to proactively help parents want to engage with our Children’s Ministry. Here are four ideas:
4 Ways To Help Parents Want To Engage With Your Children’s Ministry
Cast a clear and compelling vision.
In other words, there needs to be a good reason to engage. Most parents are selective about what they invest their time in. If they view your Children’s Ministry more like childcare, forget about engaging them.
Instead, shape a clear and compelling vision and be prepared to cast it is a short and memorable manner (see 6 Ways To Share The Vision For Your Children’s Ministry). Also, be sure to equip your key leaders to share your vision, as well. When your clear and compelling vision for Children’s Ministry becomes the language spoken by you and your team, you are far more likely to engage.
Community matters on every level in our church. Community means social engagement – yes, people want to be where their friends are! Community means safety – creating places where people can share who they really are without judgment. Community means being part of something bigger than yourself – people want to contribute, which leads to the next way to engage parents…
Why should they engage with your ministry? Because they would be doing something of great value.
- Value for them (like all of us, our natural inclination is to consciously or unconsciously evaluate “what’s in it for me?”). So what is “in it” for parents?
- Value for their children. Almost any parent is willing to engage if they know if will benefit their child. So how does your ministry value their children?
- Value for others. While this may be a distant third (yes, we usually think about ourselves and our families first, even in the church), it still carries weight in the eyes of most of us. So what value will parents provide for others if they engage?
All of these values of engaging are important. Are you communicating them to your parents? Can you easily answer these questions?
These values naturally flow from a clear and compelling vision, so wrap it in to your vision message to help parents understand just how important it can be for them to engage.
Clean up your program.
As I’ve visited church while consulting, coaching or evaluating with their ministry, I am often astonished at the seeming chaos that I encounter. It might be terrible (or non-existent) signage (see What Are Your Communication Standards for more on this) or it may be a lack of systems & processes that help parents engage easily. It could be simply that parents are made to wait for their kids well after service is over (yes, starting and stopping on time is important!).
It could be any number of things about your program that keep parents from engaging. So evaluate often (here are 5 Ways To Evaluate). As you walk around your ministry on Sunday morning (or any other time), think like a parent. What are things which make it difficult for them to engage? Clean them up!
When we cast a clear & compelling vision, create community, communicate value and clean up our program, we help parents want to engage with our Children’s Ministry.
What do you do to help parents want to engage with your Children’s Ministry?
(please share in comments below)