One key distinctive about the Orange strategy is the intentionality of partnering with parents. We realize we have roughly 40 hours to invest in the lives of the children in our ministry in any given year. Parents, on the other hand, have 3,000 hours to influence their kids in a year.
As children’s ministry leaders, we put countless hours into making sure Sunday morning is the best hour of every kid’s week. But we pray, strategize, and lose sleep over the dilemma of how to help parents realize that what happens at home is more important than what happens at church.
How do we equip families to win at home during the week?
How do we help parents to see themselves as the primary spiritual leaders?
How do we encourage and equip our parents?
I think it is incredibly easy to cultivate an all or nothing attitude and we can lose sight of a very important truth.
Every parent is a partner with your ministry. They wouldn’t be at your church if they weren’t! However, parents are partnering with you at different levels. Below is a guide from Think Orange by Reggie Joiner that helps clarify the different levels of parent partnership.
- Aware- Parents are concerned about a particular situation or development. These parents are outside the church but open to it, and they are interested in becoming better parents.I have yet to meet a parent who doesn’t want to improve.
- Involved- A Basic or entry level relationship with your church. Even if it is just bringing their kids to church, these parents are taking steps to influence kids spiritually.This is most likely the majority of your families make sure to count their presence as a WIN!
- Engaged- Parents are committed to partnering with the church. They are growing in their relationship with God and assume some responsibility for spiritual leadership at home.These parents may serve in your ministry or other church ministries, are committed to small group themselves, and have better attendance than most.
- Invested- Parents proactively devote time and energy to partner with the church. They understand the strategy of your ministry and are in community with Christian parent groups.This should be the goal: to move parents toward an invested partnership with your church and ministry.
Many times the differences between levels can be doing one thing more. For example, you can move a parent from Aware to Involved with a quarterly family experience that they bring their entire family to. Or an Involved parent to Engaged by promoting the Parent Cue app, and having parents dialog with their elementary age kids about their faith, the weekly Bible stories and how we live out what’s learned—as both kids and parents.
Once you identify how parents are currently partnering with your ministry, you can move them to the next step in a strategic goal. Keep in mind that at different phases, parents may be more Engaged and Invested than at others, and a great way to keep them connected is to help them understand the developmental milestones and events a child experiences.
Also, don’t just focus on one level of partnership. Try to reach all parents, just consider the level of parents you are trying to reach with your events and resources.
Now you and your team can start to gauge how families are partnering with your ministry and develop clear next steps for them to move to the next level. Are there fresh, new ways you can cast vision? Is there a plan to equip each family with the opportunity to move from Involved to Engaged?
For more helpful tips on engaging with parents set up an appointment with your OS today. Remember two combined influences are better than just two influences. Lead on!