Training Parents in Discipleship

DiscipleshipThere are 168 dots in this image, one for every hour of the week in a child’s life. Many of those hours are spent sleeping or at school, but what about the other hours during the week?

As church leaders, we are lucky if we get to see kids 2 hours per week. In a lot of cases, this is the only spiritual investment that kids receive. This is not only true in those households where church is just a place that parents drop off their kids so they can have some peace and quiet, but it is even true in the most Bible-believing, church-going families.

Why? Here are 3 misconceptions most parents in the church hold:

  1. Most parents believe kids will learn all they need to know at church. Two hours is plenty of time to build foundations and understandings of the biggest spiritual concepts. Teaching children to follow Jesus is the church’s responsibility anyway.
  2. Most parents believe they aren’t capable. They think that if they don’t teach Sunday school or preach, they don’t have the skills or don’t know enough about the Bible to teach their children to follow Jesus.
  3. Most parents fear failure. If their child falls away from the church later in life they are afraid that they will be responsible.

Why does this matter to you?
Whether you are a parent, a VBS director or volunteer, a children’s minister, or a Sunday school teacher, the spiritual development of children is something that you have a direct hand in both in the classroom and through the relationships that you have with their parents. Discipleship is not something that parents will learn to do in a quick training session. As you seek to train parents to disciple their children, here are a few good starting points:

  1. What can you send home that can start a conversation about Jesus?
  2. Encourage parents. Help them understand that they don’t have to have all the answers. They don’t have to have a family devotion time. That fits some families and doesn’t fit others. Do what fits your family. Ask them to start by trying to point to Jesus in one conversation that they have with their kids each day.
  3. Remind parents that failure is not a possibility. Their job as a parent is to point their children to Christ. It is the Holy Spirit’s working that calls them to Jesus and creates a growing relationship with Him.
  4. Create ways for parents to network and direct them to talk about how they are pointing their kids to Christ. Hold each other accountable and partner with each other.
  5. Pray, pray, pray. Raising kids is hard work. Pray for parents and remind them that they are not alone.

Loving Kids Well

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At churches all across the country, kids who have never been a part of a church community get a chance to experience the love of Jesus at VBS. They have teachers who genuinely care about them and are taught in a safe environment about Jesus and His sacrifice for their sins. At VBS and throughout the year in children’s ministry kids need to feel loved. In honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s a list of 10 ways to show your kids that you truly care about them!
1. Listen. Ask kids about the highlight and the low point of their week and really listen. Listen so well that you can reference it in conversation with that child later.

2. Remember. Don’t miss a child’s birthday or forget that they really love to use the green play dough. Small things remembered are amplified pictures of love.

3. Greet by name. Even now, as an adult, it means the world to meet when someone remembers my name the first time they meet me. Work hard to remember names!

4. Relate. Get to know each child’s family situation. Seek to understand how they feel about different situations and friendships. Relate to them on a child-friendly level.

5. Cater to interests. Get to know about the interests of each child. If you know a child in your class loves to draw, try to work in an activity during the week that will allow him to do so.

6. Speak lovingly. Tone of voice makes all the difference in conversations and correction. Exhibit a loving tone that exudes grace and trustworthiness.

7. Reward. When child does something great like helping another child complete a task, reward them. Rewards come in many forms and may be a verbal acknowledgement, a treat, or getting to be the line leader to the next rotation.

8. Teach. The message you are sharing is of utmost importance. Take the time to answer questions and really help children understand the truths about Jesus that you are teaching. Teaching about the best gift we have ever received is one of the greatest actions of love.

9. Listen for needs. Listen carefully as children interact with you and each other. Does a child have a Bible at home? Does the child who loves to draw have pencils and paper at home? Is there a need that you could meet in their life?

10. Encourage. Tell children that you care about them and believe in them.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! Love on some kids this week at your church!

What are some ways that you show the love of Jesus to the kids at your church?