by Joe McAlpine
I often hear leaders of nextgen ministries complain that the parents in their church just don’t get it. I will often ask the follow up question “get what?” What they mean is that they feel that most parents in their church don’t get that it is the parents responsibility to be the primary spiritual leader in their kids lives. They also mean that parents don’t get the importance of what they are doing in their youth or children’s ministry—seeing it as a babysitting service or a game time when in reality it’s much more important than that. If parents would only see the importance of their role and the importance of the churches’ role then the world would be a perfect place right? Well, here are five reasons that parents in your church might not “get it.”
- You don’t equip properly: In one breath, you tell parents that they are the primary investors of faith in their kids’ lives and it’s your job to equip them for the job . . . and then you do little to nothing to actually equip them. I’m sorry, but a weekly handout about what your kids learned in church just isn’t enough. How are you investing in parents? What’s your strategy?
- You don’t communicate well: Parents need to know your plans in church. They need to know what is going on so they know how they can capitalize on it at home. Nothing irritates me more than a youth or children’s pastor that can’t get their act together and be organized and communicate well.
- They think that you are just trying to get them to volunteer: Many have been guilty of using the “you are the primary faith giver to your kids so they need to see you serving in their class” pitch. Let’s face it. There are a lot of GREAT parents out there who aren’t cut out to serve in your youth or children’s ministry. Just because they aren’t called to serve in your area doesn’t mean they don’t get it. It also doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be investing in them.
- You don’t have kids yourself, or you have young kids: Stop pushing yourself on parents as an expert in parenting and what it takes. The newsflash is, parents can see right through that. I remember when I was a young children’s pastor. I had two kids under the age of four. I was shocked and appalled when nobody at my church signed up for my parenting class. Maybe it was because I should have been TAKING the class instead of teaching it. Find a few couples in your church that have been through the entire parenting journey. Ask them to step up and invest in young parents, helping them grow and see their role in their children’s lives. You will see a greater return.
- Maybe YOU don’t get it: I can’t believe it but there are still churches out there that take the “just get your kids to church and we will do the rest” approach. If you are at a church like this then parents don’t get it because you don’t get it. A smart church talks to parents from the beginning about how church is just part of their child’s spiritual growth. And it’s not even a huge part of it. The majority of a child’s opportunities to grow in their faith will happen at home or with parents or family, not at church. So, if your church is telling parents just to make sure their kids are at church every week, then you are missing it.
Any other thoughts? Let’s see them in the comments!
Joe is the Pastor of Share at Northbrook Church. Northbrook is a growing church just outside of Milwaukee, WI. He has been in ministry for over a decade, serving in staff leadership at churches ranging in attendance from 500 to 7,000.
This post originally appeared October 3, 2013, at JoeMcAlpine.com. Used with permission from the author.