Virtually everything we do in ministry revolves around relationships. Ministry happens best through relationships.
So far we’ve talked about building relationships with God, with our core leaders and with volunteers. See the whole What KidMin Leaders Do series here.
The next group that it’s vital for KidMin leaders to build relationships with is parents. Now I’m not going to get into the whole children’s ministry vs. family ministry debate – that’s for another post. I think we can all agree that parents are important, on many levels, when it comes to our ministry. They reinforce and/or enhance what happens in our ministry (or vice-versa). They help us in dealing with issues when it comes to the kids. We hope & pray that they are investing in the spiritual formation of their children, often making significant attempts at equipping them to do so. They are prospective volunteers for our ministry, either on a regular or an occasional basis. And, yes, often they are our peers and/or personal friends.
For all these reasons, and more, it’s important that we have good relationships with the parents of kids in our ministries. It’s important that we invest ourselves in an intentional pursuit of relationships. But how do we do that?
- Adopt a relational mindset. Many times I’ve worked with KidMin leaders who have the wrong mindset with parents. We see them only as potential volunteers. We see them as incompetent when it comes to the spiritual formation of their kids. I even had one children’s director say they were a nuisance. We have to have the mindset that parents are people we want to have a relationship with.
- Create opportunities to connect outside of the ministry walls. Depending on the size of your church, this may seem like an impossible task. As the Children’s Pastor of a church of 7000, I never felt I was ahead of the game in connecting with parents, but I tried to keep at it. For example, I kept myself as free as possible at events (my staff or volunteers ran them) so I could connect with parents. I wrote notes to parents every week just to let them know we were praying for them and available if they needed us. Having meals or attending kids’ sporting events is a great way to informally connect. Learn how to ask questions to get to know parents, and find points of commonality that you can relate to each other with…build a rapport with them. There are limitless ways to connect if we just look for and seize them.
- Lead a great Children’s Ministry. Want to really connect with parents? Take care of their kids and engage them in something exciting and meaningful in your ministry. Not doing this immediately creates a barrier with parents…they aren’t happy but don’t know how to tell you. You know it’s not great and are embarrassed it’s not better. Awkward! That is no way to build a relationship. So commit yourself to building an excellent Children’s Ministry, offer it with confidence & pride, and engage parents in relationships. You might find a new friend, or a ministry partner, or a spiritual warrior like you’ve never known before.
Parents are our friends! For some reason some leaders just haven’t bought in to that and it can create such problems in our ministry. Embrace relationships with them. Invest and build those relationships. You and your ministry will be the better for it!