7 Keys to Influencing Church Leadership to Partner with Parents

You’ve likely heard it said that our time with kids and students is getting shorter in an increasingly busy extra curricular culture. Parents however, still have the greatest influence with their kids, While what we do on a Sunday or midweek program is vital, it’s imperative that we make a shift in our time and resources to help parents to succeed at home. But, it’s not entirely up to us, is it?

Influencing church leadership to embrace a vision of reaching the whole family is critical. After all, your leaders set the direction of the church. And if the church employs you, it’s likely you will have to get them to buy into partnering with parents. But that’s not always easy to do! Team Up! The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering with Parents.

Here’s the question I get asked a whole lot! How can I get buy in from my pastor or church leaders to reallocate my time and resources to partner with parents? 

Climbing Leadership

While it can often feel like climbing a mountain alone, there are some practical and tactical steps you can take to gain buy in from those who lead us: 

  1. Focus on your Job Description First. It doesn’t matter if you are a volunteer or full-time, the leaders in your church see your primary responsibility to invest in children or students (or both). We have to remember that the idea of partnering with parents, and the titles of “Next Generation” or “Family Life Pastors” is foreign to many leaders in the church. We also have to consider that there is a certain way children’s and youth ministry has been done over the years. Therefore, it is essential that we gain influence first by doing a great job in the role that we were called to. It can take two or more years to establish a healthy ministry before partnering with parents can truly become a focus. While this might be frustrating, it doesn’t mean you can’t infuse partnering with parents into your role, it just might take a little longer to arrive…
  2. Pursue Healthy Conversations. Part of our role is to constantly find ways to passionately talk up the need and vision to partner with parents. However, in my experience it is crucial to pursue conversations that are positive and filled with great reasons why, as opposed to criticizing what the church is missing out on. In pursuing healthy conversations with the decision makers in your church, keep in mind that they are usually managing multiple people, plans, and ideas. Therefore, ensure that you come prepared.
  3. Own the Vision. Can you articulate why it’s essential to partner with parents in a sentence or two? Can you provide a biblical basis along with specific examples of how partnering with parents is more effective? Chapter 4 in my book provides a clear vision for you to articulate. If you need help in this area, consider picking up a copy.
  4. Have a Strategy. One of the greatest shortcomings in my early days was not having a good strategy that other leaders could support. Having a strategy that includes a timeline and specific steps showing a progression of implementation is crucial.
  5. Share Stories. A story of life change is always going to be the most effective way to cast vision with leaders in the local church. We all want to know one thing. Does it work? Providing stories of how partnering with parents is making your ministry more effective and how it is helping parents to be more effective is so crucial. It ultimate serves as a crucial way to cast vision for leaders.
  6. Request “Stage Time”. I am very fortunate in my church when it comes to my senior leaders supporting the vision to partner with parents. It’s not difficult to ask for opportunities to cast the vision in the overall church. However, this has not always been case. Even though there are always so many events to be promoted and given stage time, it shouldn’t mean that we do not ask. As long as we don’t come across as whiney kids, you and I might be surprised by the opportunities that come our way.
  7. Commit to the Long Haul. One of the greatest ways you and I can influence leadership to capture a vision for partnering with parents is longevity. When you have been around for a while and you have a track record of “getting your job done” as well as having gained trust with key leaders, longevity brings influence.

What would you add to this list? How much “buy in” do you have with your church leadership to truly partner with parents? Is it just an add on, or is it something that is weaved into your role? Who are the leaders and influencers you need to connect with this week to discuss your vision to reach the whole family?

Phil <><

photo credit: Aiguille du Midi, Mont-Blanc via photopin (license)

8 Signs of an Unhealthy Youth & Children’s Ministry Worker

8“The way you invest in your own family will significantly affect the influence you have with parents.” Team Up! The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering with Parents. 

God has called parents to be the primary investors of their child’s faith journey. It’s essential that we comprehend the greater influence of time that parents have with their children.

Our ability to partner with parents will depend greatly on the example we set before them. 1 Timothy 3:5 calls us to take care of our family first, so that we can know how to take care of the family God…

What are the signs that our own walk and family life could be in trouble? Here are eight signs that I list in Team Up! The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering with Parents. 

  1. People Pleasing: We live to impress others instead of pleasing God first. We say “yes” to everyone and everything and feel ashamed at the idea of saying “no” to anyone who asks. We almost feel selfish if we want to say “no” to someone’s request. In the meantime, we become worn out and ministry has little joy or excitement. We are running on empty and our own family gets the few leftovers, if anything meaningful from us.
  2. Platform Builders: We attempt to build a platform of significance for ourselves and live little to no room on the platform for Christ. We are constantly fueled by the accolades of success and by the making a name for ourselves.
  3. Stolen Identity: Our identity is staked in what we do rather than who we are in Christ. It only takes a negative comment or a failed event to make us wonder if we are really cut out for ministry. Rather than being confident in the person God has called us to be, we are stooped in the identity of the position we hold.
  4. Broken Boundaries: We don’t know how to say “no” to ministry needs, yet we constantly say “no” to our family with our time and focus with our own family. Saying “no” to family is often the easier route since they will be more understanding, right? Wrong. Over time an understanding spouse or child can easily become bitter and resentful of the church and your ministry.
  5. All Work and No Devotion: Our personal devotional time has become more of a study time for creating the next great idea or message for our ministry. Reading God’s Word and applying it personally and practically has been replaced by lesson preparation for the benefit of others.
  6. No Time for Worship: Making it into the church worship experience is a distant memory as we look to serve others and ensure that everything depends on us. While we encourage families to sit together in church, our own family has not experienced this for a long time…
  7. Present but not Really Present: In an over connected world where we can be contacted every minute of the day, it’s easy to be with our own families but not fully present with them. Rather than shut off the communication at strategic times, we feel like every phone call, text message, email, and social media request has to be answered instantly. Over time our kids and spouses conclude that the outside world is more important than what happens inside our own homes.
  8. The Temple is Crumbling: We are told that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, yet for some of us it feels like the temple is crumbling. There’s no time for exercise and food is often a comfort that leads to health complications over time. More than anything, we lack energy, and always feel like we need more sleep…

I know there are more to add to this list. What would you add? What steps are you taking to ensure that your family is healthy and your example to parents is worth following? Remember, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about seeking the author and perfecter of your faith…

Begin to today by admitting to God the areas in your life and ministry that need help… Invite a friend or mentor to encourage you to take healthier steps. Pray for God’s strength and wisdom to discover a healthier way to balance family and ministry… 

Phil <><

photo credit: Two Infinity…… via photopin (license)

Team Up! Partner with Parents with a Web of Support

PlayFor years, there’s been a tendency for us to focus solely on church programs and miss helping parents succeed at home. While many of us have heard of the importance of partnering with parents, there’s not always been a clear and practical picture of how to do it. That’s why I wrote Team Up! The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering with Parents.
Today, we’ll look at a simple strategy that will help support and equip parents without requiring us to expend huge energy or to navigate a huge learning curve:

 

“All parents need a web of support to help them on their parenting journey. It’s our role to connect them. It’s important for them to be surrounded by people who can help and encourage them as they raise their kids.” Excerpt from Team Up! The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering with Parents

Help Parents Develop a Web of Support

  1. Connect Parents with Each Other. So many parents feel isolated and alone. They often feel like they are the only ones who are struggling or making mistakes at home. Whether it’s promoting small groups in your church (even if that’s not your area of ministry), or creating intentional ways for parents to talk and connect within your program and events, parents need to know they are not alone.
  2. Connect Parents with Seasoned Parents. Who are the “been there” parents who have a heart for parents? Who are the seasoned parents who can help create events, small groups, and classes to pour into your parents? So often, we feel like the burden to partner with parents is solely on us. However, if we pray and watch, God will often show us those seasoned parents who can come alongside the parents of the children we are ministering to.
  3. Connect Parents with Volunteers. So often we provide volunteers with the focus to invest and pour into the kids in their group or program. But what would it look like if we changed their focus and gave them a revised “job description” that included reaching out to and encouraging a parent once a week? What if every volunteer in your children’s and youth ministry reached out to one parent each week? What impact would that have?
  4. Connect Parents with Professionals. Do you have a network of professionals you can quickly refer parents to in a time of need? Partnering with them does not mean that we have all the answers and expertise, it can mean that we know who to point them to. If you don’t have a list of counselors and trained professionals, today is the day to begin building one

There are a number of additional ways to build a web of support for parents, but hopefully you get the overall idea. Partnering with parents in children’s and youth ministry does not always require us to overhaul what we are doing, rather we can weave some essential components into what is already existing.

There’s lots more to say, and it’s written in Team Up! The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering with Parents. Grab a copy and feel free to contact me and continue the conversation with questions and ideas!

Phil <><

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