Family Friday Links 1.13.17

Here's what we've been reading online this week:

Steven Knight had a great post on equipping parents. He describes it this way in his opening, "One of the biggest needs in the church today is parent ministry." He goes on to list 5 simple ways to be intentional with parents.

LifeWay Kids had a guest post by Barnabas Piper on lies parents tell their kids. He lists a few reasons for this like this one, "Sometimes it’s because we so want them to believe something, to feel better, to overcome a challenge, or to work through pain that we will say anything to try to help." He goes on to list what we say, why we say it, and the harm it does. As parents, we want to be know as truth tellers, so we need to stand on God's truth and help our kids wrestle with it.

Mark Merrill over at All Pro Dad had a post on busyness. He wrote, "A friend of mine reminded me that we basically have 7,000 days with our kids from cradle to college. I don’t want to get to the end of those 7,000 days and wonder where my children went. If you and I don’t do something about our busyness problem, those days will be gone before we know it." He goes on to list why this is and what to do about it. This is extremely important for parents to think through, as well as pastors and churches.

What have you been reading online lately? Leave us a link in the comment section and we will check it out.

Create, Connect, Grow, Go: A tool for assessing your family ministry

John Piper says, “Leadership is knowing where people need to go and taking the initiative to get them there in God’s way and by God’s power."

 Many Christian leaders have a robust theology. They have clear standards for how ministry should be. The leader may even be able to see how their church or ministry area fails to live up to those standards. What they don’t have is a creative vision for how to move the people under their care in the direction they should go. They don’t have a strategy for ministry. In order to have a clear ministry vision, it’s important to have deep convictions and also be able to see how they will work out practically.

Here is a four-part strategy we've use to plan and measure our progress in family ministry. I presented this earlier in the week at the ETCH conference in Nashville.

Review the questions below or download the full powerpoint presentation here. 

  1. CREATE welcoming environments for building relationships with kids and families. Welcoming environments are the front door of our children’s ministry. We show Jesus to children through the way we welcome. We want the atmosphere of our children’s environments to be prayer-filled and dependent on God. We want facilities that are fun and safe. Welcoming environments include exciting kids events like Vacation Bible School and even our website where new families look to check out what we do for kids before they come. Keeping our environments welcoming involves training up excellent hospitality teams—including those who do follow-up and those who serve kids with special needs.

    We measure…

    Hospitality: Is there a regular prayer huddle that sets the atmosphere for our time together? Is there a welcoming hospitality presence? Are there long lines at check-in? How are we following up with new families? Thank you notes? Care packages? Do teachers know regular kids by name? Is there a need for a special needs team or bi-lingual workers? Is the hospitality team clearly identifiable (lanyards, t-shirts, etc.)?

    Safety: Are all exit/entrance doors secured? Is there a security presence at main entrance? Emergency response plan up-to-date? Volunteer records (background checks, references, membership, policy and abuse training) up-to-date? Are policies and procedures implemented? Are there reports of policy violations?

    Showing Value of Children through Aesthetics: Are you providing a kid-friendly and bright environment? Displaying adequate signage? Using up-to-date check-in technology? Hosting attractional family events?
  2. CONNECT kids to Jesus and the church community. After kids have stepped through our front door, we want them to see Jesus. This means preparing creative and application-oriented Bible lessons that connect kids to Jesus and his good news. It also means providing consistent leaders who intentionally shepherd children and other volunteers. We recruit and develop men and women who are willing and gifted for serving and leading in children’s ministry.

    We measure…

    Large Group Teaching: Is there a regular large group teaching time? Is the gospel (Need / Good News / Faith) clear? Does it include music? Excellence level? Are you regularly assessing the teaching? Are we using technology (sound, video, powerpoint, etc.)

    Classroom Lesson: Are teachers kid-friendly and engaging? Following and implementing provided resources? Are teachers following provided lesson schedules? Is the gospel (Need / Good News / Faith) clear? Are classrooms organized and well-stocked? Are lesson materials prepped for teachers before they arrive? Engaging a variety of learning styles? Are there any testimonies to report about engaging kids in the classroom?

    Leadership Team: Are coaches and coordinators regularly meeting with the other leaders and teachers under their care? Are we consistently meeting classroom ratios (Nursery, 1:3; Toddler, 1:5; Preschool, 1:7; Elementary, 1:10)? Did we hold a training for our children’s ministry team during the past month? What percentage of our team has completed basic vision training before serving?
  3. GROW alongside kids and families by helping them take next steps. After families have become regular parts of our community, we want to move them into taking the “next step” along their journey of faith. So, we’re intentional about equipping families with classes and resources to help them grow with Jesus. We also lead our families through a series of milestones that include child dedication and the student baptism process.

    We measure….

    Training (Classes): Are parents attending classes? Are the topics the classes cover engaging the questions that families are asking? Is the gospel (need / good news / faith) clear in our classroom presentations? Are the classes organized as a pathway? How do the differing classes relate to one another?

    Involvement (Milestones): How many families participated? How well was the milestone promoted? Excellence level? How are we gifting parents or individuals who participate? How are we encouraging community celebrations?

    Equipping (Resources): Are we providing weekly take home resources? Are other parent resources available at the book table or online? Are we highlighting them? Are we sending a regular (weekly/monthly) parent e-mail? Are families using these resources? Are there any testimonies to report about parents teaching kids at home?
  4. GO—Send kids and families on mission. Growth for kids and families moves beyond their personal discipleship. Our growth in faith should move us to be ambassadors for Christ who love our neighbors and go with God on mission to the world. We cultivate this in our family ministry by partnering with our church’s international missions and mercy ministries. We also give families opportunities to serve together, and we are intentional about training children in evangelism.

    We measure…

    Evangelism Training: Are you regularly challenging kids to invite their friends to church? Have you taught kids to share their faith? Has this been highlighted in the last month? Have you given them clear resources to use when sharing their faith with their friends?

    Service: Do middle and high school students have some way to use their gifts in your church? Can they serve in your children’s ministry (never without adult supervision; we don’t leave children with children)? How are you cultivating a heart for service or a heart for the poor amongst the next generation?

    Missions: Does your church sponsor short-term mission trips where families can go on mission together? Does your children’s ministry regular pray for missionaries? Do the kids in your ministry create care packages for missionaries? How are you doing missions education with the kids under your care?

What emotions are you experiencing about this self-evaluation? In which of these twelve areas do you feel the weakest? In which of these areas do you feel the strongest? How does the gospel speak to your emotions? What are two or three next steps can you can take to grow as a ministry. Write them down. Pray about them with a friend.

Family Friday Links 4.8.16

Here's what we've been reading online recently:

Jason Helopoulos wrote a post on threats to the Christian family. He writes, "Western hemisphere Christians have awakened to this reality in recent years as Western nations embrace everything from homosexual union as marriage, to legally forbidding parents from disciplining their own children, to restricted parental rights regarding health care. As serious as these issues remain, some of the deadliest enemies of the Christian family come from within rather than from without." He goes on to list 6. Parents, this requires serious consideration.

Sam Luce wrote a post on the topic of partnering with parents. It's what every Children's, Youth, and Family ministry should want to do. But do we? Sam says, "Partnering with parents primarily requires a church that sees the value of families and provides resources and programming that make that value an experienced reality." Pastors, take note and be ministered to by a fellow pastor.

Jason Helverston wrote a post entitled "Why We Teach Our Children to be Christian" He wrote, "By telling our children all faiths are possible and powerful and personal, we have also told them that no faith is really true." Parents, it's important to teach your kids your faith. Learn from this pastor and parent.

What have you been reading online lately? Leave us a link in the comment section for us to check out.

Family Friday Links 11.6.15

Here's what we've been reading online this week:

Desiring God had a post on parenting towards heaven. It reads, "Parents attempt to establish heaven on earth in at least two common ways. Some of us expect our children to be heaven for us. Others expect to build heaven for them." This post goes on to explain the dangers of this kind of thinking. Parents this is worth your time.

Our friend, Sam Luce, had a great post about partnering with parents. He says, "Parents need easy first steps and clear next steps." He goes on to list several questions pastors should be thinking about to help parents. This is a valuable resource to be thinking through pastors.

Greg Baird had a post listing characteristics of effective parents. Parents, this is another post for you. Check out this great list.

Brad Bridges had a post on leadership development. He starts the post by stating, "Your leadership development process in children’s ministry is crucial. It has a major impact on whether families ever come back." He goes on to explain 6 steps to take. If you are a Children's or Youth Pastor, this post is for you.

What have you been reading online lately? Leave us a link in the comment section to check out.