You Can Convert Your Children’s Ministry Into a Parent-Teacher Fellowship
The people who have the greatest spiritual influence in the lives of children, and are the primary “pastors” to children, are parents.
That’s the way God intended it, and so that’s the way things should be.
But it usually is not the way churches structure children’s ministries within churches.
It’s not uncommon for churches and children’s ministry leaders to heartily agree that parents have the greatest spiritual influence, and that parents should be the primary “pastors” to their own children, but they don’t design the church’s ministry to children to reflect such beliefs. Instead, all the attention, energy, and resources of the church’s ministry to children are poured directly into the children, curriculums and materials for teaching children, and children’s teachers and ministry workers. The parents simply drop off and pick up their kids.
That’s not a church living out a position that parents are their own children’s pastors and supporting parents in ministering to their children.
But a “Parent-Teacher Fellowship” approach to children’s ministry is.
Years ago, when one of my “hats” as Associate Minister was responsible for all Christian education, from nursery to senior adults, we scrapped the traditional children’s ministry program and replaced it with a Parent-Teacher Fellowship. Here’s how we did it:
– From specially scheduled meetings with parents and all children’s ministry workers, to preaching and teaching from the pulpit, we announced our belief that parents are supposed to be the primary pastors and spiritual influencers of their own children and that the church was changing its emphasis to support parents in their role.
– In our pre-planning and research work, we heard from many parents about how they felt undiscipled and unequipped to be “pastors” and spiritual leaders to their own children. So, partnering with the adult education ministry, we worked at helping adults find opportunities to be discipled, as well as offered teaching and training to help these parents in their own spiritual maturing so they would feel more confident to teach their children.
– The church would still have a children’s ministry comprised of Sunday School, Children’s Church, Christian Service Brigade for boys, Pioneer Girls, a large and successful Vacation Bible School ministry, and strong involvement in church summer camps, BUT … but all that would be turned on it’s head to put parents in the lead and refocus these various children’s ministry components on supporting parents leading in all of these avenues.
That meant we really had to do our work, which included:
– Every year, offering to parents comprehensive training in child development, which was also a requirement for every person working in our children’s ministry.
– Training for both parents and children’s ministry workers in how to effectively proclaim the Gospel to children using a specific evangelistic tool that was hugely successful in teaching the Gospel to children.
With parents and children’s teachers and workers BOTH well-equipped, our Parent-Teacher Fellowship (PTF) then:
– Provided parents with an annual “Scope and Sequence” for all the curriculum being taught in all segments of our church ministry to children so parents knew precisely what we would be teaching in church ministry to their children.
– At the start of each month, parents were provided with information on that month’s curriculum content along with detailed ways parents could “lead out” in the home in introducing the lessons, suggested content to teach in the home, and suggested ways to follow-up after lessons were taught in church settings. The goal was to equip parents to do some teaching in the home so that what was taught at church reinforced what parents were doing in the home.
– We held quarterly PTF meetings, bringing parents and children’s ministry teachers and workers together to collaborate, learn, equip, and prepare together, as well as to have fellowship together around the mutual commitment to teach Christ and the Word of God to children, to evangelize children, and to disciple children.
– We also provided parents and all children’s ministry workers with a quarterly newsletter on topics relevant to ministering to children and Christian family life.
It took a lot of time and effort to make the PTF concept a success because this had been a traditional church where parents thought it was the church’s job to evangelize, teach, and disciple children. Parents were used to dropping off their kids and letting the church do everything “spiritual,” and then they would return to pick up their kids.
Certainly not all parents bought into the PTF concept and still depended on the church to teach their children about Christ. But many parents grew as disciples and DID start leading out in ministering to their own children. Those parents went on to foster a more robust family spiritual life in their homes as they learned to use all of life as a curriculum for teaching their children about God, like what we read about in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
I think many churches believe parents should lead the way in ministering to their own children, but they don’t structure the church’s ministry to children to reflect that because it’s much easier to do things the traditional way and just let parents drop off their kids for the church to take it from there. The problem is not putting parents in the lead and supporting them often results in Christian homes being spiritually weak as Christian families. Doing the hard work of developing something like a PTF concept is worth the effort when you begin to see household after household becoming more vibrant as homes in which faith in God is robustly taught, modeled, and shared.
Try it, it’s worth it.
This article originally appeared here.