How to Effectively Minister to Parents in Your Church

Sometimes, the parents in your ministry need to be taught, too. (Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash)

"There is no greater leadership challenge than parenting." —Jim Rohn

Children's ministry is no longer just about children. It's just as much about their parents. If you want to make an impact in the lives of children, then you must influence their greatest influencers.

No one has more influence in a child's life than his or her parents.

It's not easy being a parent. I heard someone say, "Before I was a parent, I had three theories about raising children; now I have three children and no theories." If you're a parent, I'm sure you can identify. And if you have more than one child, you're also a referee.

One mom said when her children become unruly, she has a nice, safe playpen. She said when her kids are finished, she comes out of the playpen. If you're a parent, you also know what it's like to walk around your house and wonder how everything you touch is sticky.

OK, enough of that. Let's talk about leading parents well. Your strategy to lead parents is just as important as your strategy to lead children. I have found that many parents want to be the spiritual leader for their children, they just don't know where to start.

As children's ministry leaders, we have an incredible opportunity to come alongside them as a resource provider, cheerleader and prayer partner. Let's talk about how we can support and encourage parents in discipling their children.

Understand Them

There is a much different family dynamic today. If you're going to lead parents well in today's culture, you need to know the unique dynamics of their families. Consider these recent findings about today's families:

—There are nearly 13.6 million single parents raising over 21 million children.

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—Sixty-one percent of same-sex couples who live together are married.

—Sixty-five percent of children live with married parents compared to 85% in 1968.

—Over 18 million adults are cohabiting.

—Sixty-five percent of remarriages involve children from a prior marriage on at least one side, creating a blended family.

—There are 2.7 million grandparents raising their grandchildren.

—Four percent of adopted children are being raised by gay parents.

Born roughly between 1980 and 2000, the Millennials are the young couples you are trying to reach and involve in your church. There are over 75 million Millennials in the United States. They comprise 24% of the population. And at the time of this writing, more than 17 million Millennial women are now mothers, and that number is growing by more than a million every year. In fact, 82% of children born each year are born to Millennials.

Technology is their mentor. They go online for parenting advice.

Millennial parents invest in their children.

They are struggling financially.

Many don't claim to be religious.

—59% of Millennials who were raised in church have dropped out.

—Only 2 in 10 people under 30 believe attending a church is important or worthwhile (an all-time low).

—35% of Millennials have an anti-church stance—even to the point that they believe the church does more harm than good.

—This obviously means Millennials are much more likely to not pass faith to their children. It's hard to pass along something you don't believe yourself.

Include them in the planning of the church. Why? Because they are the future of the church.

Consider this:

—Talk it and walk it.

—Move from monologue to dialogue.

—Help parents make church a priority.

—Equip parents with tools they can use to disciple their children.

—Partner with parents in prayer.

—Recommend some age-appropriate devotionals for families. Give parents a list of good devotional books they can read with their child.

—Get some good music on their smartphones.

—Preferably some of them will be songs they sing at church.

—Recommend some good apps they can use to learn God's Word and review what they are being taught.

These points are from my new book Lead Well in Children's Ministry. It contains over 30 years of wisdom from leading in children's ministry.

Dale Hudson is a ministry builder. As a children's pastor, he has helped build some of the largest and fastest-growing children's ministries in the country. At Cross Church, he led the children's ministry to double in size. At Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, he helped the church grow from 8,000 to 16,000 in four years with the majority of the growth coming from reaching unchurched families.

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