by Bre Hallberg
Christmas is just weeks away—kinda hard to believe! And with Christmas comes the long list of all the things we need to do to make this holiday the perfect experience for our families, specifically the families that may come to church for the very first time. We prepare for the Christmas Eve service, the Christmas pageants, concerts and plays.
We eagerly await the families that we may only see once or twice a year. We make every effort to shine brightly for these families in hopes that they will return week after week, that they will catch our vision and return to church.
But, what if we looked at partnering with families in a whole new way? What if we decided to take the church to them? What if we decided to BE the church? What if we decided to partner with every parent whether they attend our church or not?
Think of the parents at the bus stop, at the football game, in line at the grocery store. What if we truly believed in them; if we believed they wanted the best for their child; if we believed they played the most significant role in their families. Would it make a difference in how we treated them? How we modeled the church to them?
While they all may not be contemplating the spiritual growth of their children, they are trying to do whatever it takes to be a good parent. They feel overwhelmed. Don’t you feel it too? Trying to live up to the expectations and pressures of being the right kind of parent.
“What would happen if you began to measure the parents you meet, not by an ideal standard of what a family should be, but you begin to see each and every one of them as a part of God’s story of redemption and restoration, and that you begin to lead families to see the bigger picture of God’s love and restoration,” (Reggie Joiner).
Parents feel overwhelmed with the expectations of what they need to do for their child spiritually. So, instead of doing something, they do nothing. Sometimes they’re afraid to walk into the doors of your church, because they already feel like a failure. Why go where someone is going to confirm that failing?
Maybe if we truly believed in every parent we came across, they would be more inclined to see the church as a place where they could become better equipped as a parent—a place with whom they could partner on their parenting journey. Instead of expecting them to do the laundry list of spiritual disciplines in order to be a good parent, we need to encourage them to take one step toward developing an everyday faith in their child.
Perhaps that first step is that a mom talks with her daughter and lets her know she cares. Maybe it’s that a dad prays with his son. Or, it’s that a family begins to prioritize church as more than a once in awhile kind of thing.
As leaders in the church, it’s our job to see potential in every family we meet. If we believe that what happens at home is more important than what happens at church, then we need to create a strategy that helps to equip parents rather than crippling them with anxiety. Instead of setting unrealistic expectations that families will never meet, we need to create a strategy of simple steps that helps families become engaged in the story that God is writing in each of their lives.