We just finished leading another Marriage Tune Up conference this weekend for a church. We were actually brought in by the children's minister. Why? Because more and more of these ministers realize if they want to affect the spiritual lives of the kids to whom they minister, they have to help affect the spiritual lives of those kids' parents.
If you sing "I've Got Peace Like a River" at children's church, but don't help their home life feel peaceful by providing their parents with marriage teaching on conflict resolution, it won't really feel like God can help them at home. If you teach a lesson about God loving them unconditionally, but you're not helping their parents learn how to love each other on the days they don't like each other, it won't feel like that kind of love can be real. These ideas and dreams of helping children have peaceful home lives will just stay dreams if plans are not implemented.
How can you actively help children have a better home life?
1. Give parents encouragement in their marriage
Many studies have proven how children benefit from living in a home with a strong marriage.* In some churches, marriage ministry doesn't have it's own budget, so those who invest in their children's ministry budgets might have the ability to minister to the kids through the back doors of their homes. Making their parents' marriages stronger will create stronger, healthier kids as well. Encouraging healthy marriages can be as simple as providing books or dvds for parents to go through at home, to creating small groups where couples can be encouraged by other couples. Date nights and special events can also be a great way to revitalize the families of your church and show children that love is worth working on and celebrating. Find out more about our Love and Laughter Date Nights here.
2. Lead parents in leading their children to the Lord
We believe one of the things we who work in children's ministry need to change is how we view the role of the parent. That will mean we have to change how we see our role as well. If we truly believe that parents make a great impact on the spiritual growth of their kids, we have to give them the resources to be the leaders in this area. That will actually help us by unloading some of the burdens we place on ourselves and put them back where they belong... with the parents.
If we do this, we will see the kids in our children's ministries grow in ways they never could when we are trying to handle the responsibility of their spiritual growth on our own.
Doing a sample of a devotional like “Kids of Character Bible Study” by Marilyn Boyer at church and sending it home with the suggestion that parents can order and use this resource as a family takes away the common fear/excuse that they don't know what resource to use or whether they have enough Bible knowledge to lead their kids spiritually. Going a step further and providing the resources with a class that teaches the parents how to use it during the everyday hustle and bustle of life will help the parents gain even more confidence in sharing their faith with their children.
Lessen your load and give parents specific ideas on ways to influence their kids' spiritual development and your ministry will really be "tearing down walls and building up families".
*University of Nebraska Study http://child.unl.edu/99bc9f69-b52e-44dd-b8ae-7476d331b46e.pdf