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 <><

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Team Up! How to Become an Expert in Partnering with Parents!

Expert Lightbulb
 photo credit: Light bulb on desk via photopin (license)

Partnering with parents to reach the next generation for Christ should be an essential component for every children’s and youth ministry. While we get to partner with them through our weekly programs, it’s imperative that we understand that God has called parents to be the primary equippers of their child’s faith journey. It’s essential that we comprehend the greater influence of time that parents have with their children.

 “I get it, but what next? I’m not an expert on parenting!”

That was a statement I made many years ago as I grappled with how best to reach parents with a vision to invest in their child’s faith journey. I had quickly found that parents were looking for practical ways to invest in their children, but many times, they were lost for ways to help faith come alive at home.  And while I was not always the one to help them with every question, it was imperative that I develop a network of people who had the answers.

“Be an expert at helping parents find answers rather than one who’s expected to have the answers.” Team Up! The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering with Parents. 

Consider the following experts and support you can provide parents: 

  1. “Been There” Parents: Who are the parents who are a few steps ahead of the parents in your ministry? While there are no perfect parents, it’s essential to connect your parents with those who have gleaned valuable lessons in raising their own children in the faith. Who are the “been there” parents in your ministry?
  2. Trained Christian Counselors: Every community has a number of counselors, but they do not all come from a Christ-centered perspective. Talk to your senior pastor and other church leaders to build a list of recommended trained christian counselors.
  3. Community Agencies: While many community agencies will not have the same mission as the church, they can often provide great practical help to the families in your church.
  4. Books: Ask parents if there are books that have helped them in their parenting journey. Create a list and even be prepared to ask a parent to write a review of the book for other parents to read.
  5. Websites: What websites and blogs can help parents in their faith journey. Recently at Kidmin2015 we created a list of websites, blogs, and apps that can help parents. Click here for the list. 
  6. Apps: Some of your parents are already using apps and loving the ideas and encouragement they bring. Ask parents if they have a “go to” app they use as they invest in their child’s faith journey. Once you have found that app on the app store, consider searching for similar apps to recommend them.

Parents see you as the expert whether you like it or not. It does NOT mean you have to know all the answers, but it DOES mean that you should be an expert in finding the answers!

What are your “go to” resources for parents? What are your favorite websites, apps, and books to recommend parents? 

Phil <><

 

Kidmin 2015 Deep Learning Track Notes

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Thanks to everyone who came to the deep learning track called Parent Pain Points. A great deal of the content came from my recently published book, Team Up! The Family Ministry Playbook for Partnering with Parents.

As promised, below is a link to shortened outline with the main points and quotes from the 4 sessions I led. (Please note, there is an expiration on the link – The notes will be available until October 15th).

Click here for notes!

Feel free to give me feedback and please use the contact form if you have any questions?

It was such a pleasure to meet so many incredible children’s, youth, and family ministry workers!

Phil <><

10 Reasons Why You MUST Delegate to Volunteers

As a Family Ministry Pastor, I get to oversee our staff, and volunteers from birth through high school. On any given weekend it takes a massive amount of volunteers to pull off a great children’s and student ministry experience. If you add in events, partnering with parents, and the day to day running of our family ministry, it takes a lot of people to make a great impact.

delegate to volunteers

The truth is, without great volunteers myself and my staff would be overwhelmed and stretched.

But, more importantly, our overall impact is limited when we fail to delegate to our volunteers. 

A few weeks ago, I wrote a quick list in Evernote to give to my staff as a reminder of the importance of delegating to our volunteers. While it’s not a comprehensive list, it’s a good beginning to a discussion that you could have with staff at your church and even your core volunteers. Remember, volunteers in leadership roles need to learn how to delegate effectively too…

10 Reasons for Delegating: 
1) We develop leaders for the future of our ministry.
2) We get more done in the longer term.
3) It frees us up to invest in the lives of kids, students, parents, and volunteers.
4) We don’t burnout!
5) We always have a plan ‘B’ when we are away or sick.
6) We can invest more time into making a plan instead of always ‘doing’
7) We build more ownership of the vision in the volunteer team. Therefore…
8) We receive more promotion when we delegate. Volunteers who own the vision will promote more
9) We get to focus on our strengths and key areas when we delegate…
10) It’s what Jesus did with His disciples

That was my quick Evernote list. What would you add? 

Phil <><

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Simplify Your Communication to Volunteers and Help Them Succeed!

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.”
— General Colin Powell

Mixed Messages Volunteers

As a pastor to families, I directly and indirectly oversee staff and volunteers in our children’s and student ministries. With busy volunteers, and with so many competing messages in their world, it can be a challenge to communicate the details, programs, and vision for our ministry. Volunteers will soon tune out my communication if I don’t simplify what they receive from me.

1. Cast Vision: Everything we write or say to volunteers is a opportunity to cast vision. Whether it is at the beginning of your weekly email, or sharing a story at the beginning of a volunteer meeting; the vision of your organization needs to placed in front of your volunteers on a regular basis.

A well placed (short) story that captures and communicates the vision is one of the best ways to help a volunteer team focus (and refocus) on what matters most.

When vision leaks, good volunteers will determine in their mind what the vision is… 

With so many church backgrounds and varied personalities, even our best volunteers can stray off course. Being slightly off course at the beginning of a ‘journey’ will mean you are way off course by the end of it. It’s essential therefore, that we constantly chart the course in our emails, stories, and meetings.

2. Clarity: In a busy world that is crammed full of competing messages, we should not expect that our volunteers are going to ‘get’ our message quickly. If there is something we want our volunteers to know or do, it is essential that we give them clarity in our communication.

Being clear will require us to craft statements and sayings that will stick over time.

3. Concise: Clarity comes when we narrow our focus down to the absolute essentials that volunteers need to hear again and again. In a frantic week full of competing messages, it is imperative that communication with volunteers is concise and to the point. We are helping our volunteers make our ministry a priority when we make it easy for them digest our communication. Who wants to read a novel in their email inbox?

But, are we ‘dumbing down’ the role of a volunteer by simplifying our communication? In my experience, it is better to simplify and to build from there, as opposed to overloading our volunteers with multiple and complicated messages that they will never remember or act on.

How are you consistently communicating by casting a clear and concise vision and instructions to a busy volunteer team? What tools and methods do you use for communication? What statements have you crafted that have become part of the DNA in your organization?

Phil <><

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The Influence of Time On A Child’s Life

I saw this video last night that caught my attention…

It’s already gone viral with many TV networks and has become a talking point for many in the news. Perhaps it’s because a for once a Police car dash cam is capturing a positive moment rather than some destructive or violent scene? Maybe it’s because a police officer is extending an act of kindness and not arresting a criminal?

What captured my heart about this video is to consider the potential of this police officers actions…  His simple act of kindness has the potential to help a disconnected teenager find hope and connection with an adult who cares enough to give the most valuable commodity: TIME.

As someone who works with families, the most valuable thing a parent or adult can provide for a child is TIME.

In a world that consumes us with busyness and achievement, TIME has become a rare quantity.

But it is this valuable commodity that our kids need from us the most… (I say this as someone who constantly adjusts and reevaluates my schedule constantly, in order to make my kids a priority).

TIME communicates love…

TIME opens up conversations…

TIME builds faith

TIME brings understanding…

TIME builds trust…

TIME brings healing…

The greatest gift we can give a child in our world today is TIME. It has become our most valuable commodity. Use it wisely.

Phil <><

Time for Kids

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Scheduling What Matters Most

“If you never did ministry again, I am not sure I would care at this point!”

These were the hard, but truthful, words my wife spoke as she shared her frustrations of being married to an overscheduled youth pastor.

It wasn’t like I didn’t see it coming… Over many months I had blurred the lines of ministry and family. I had created an unhealthy ministry schedule in a church that was exploding with growth. My overscheduled ministry had become the enemy of healthy family time. I knew in my heart there were things I needed to change.

I had been to conferences that told me to create boundaries and to take care of my family. Even though I knew simple changes would make all the difference, I was allowing the complexity of ministry to lead the way for my family. It took a difficult reality and painful words to begin a new direction…

Here’s what I discovered: When I schedule what matters most for my family, we stay healthier and I minister from a healthier perspective. Therefore, it is imperative that I live by some simple, (yet powerful) ways of planning family and ministry. We do this by picking a regular day to make a plan. For us, it’s Monday evenings. We have dinner together and look at our upcoming schedules. During this habitual planning time we are intentional about setting aside family time.

Here’s how we schedule what matters most:

(Continue reading the rest of this article over at youthministry.com by clicking here)

 

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