Guest post by Rodney A. Wilson
Recent research tells us that an overwhelming number of parents (83%) feel they are responsible for their child’s spiritual development (The Parent Adventure, p. 123). Such responsibility can often appear to be a pretty lonely task.
But it doesn’t have to be. Today’s churches can partner with parents, providing tremendous resources, knowledge and encouragement so the parent doesn’t seem quite so isolated.Today’s churches partner with parents to provide tremendous resources, knowledge and encouragement. Click To Tweet
Here are three offerings the church can provide to parents in their journey:
1) Exposure to God’s Word and His principles for their children. Whether it is through puppetry, story-telling, pictures, drama, singing, making a craft or any other way – your child’s age-group leader (on a Sunday, for example) can share the thoughts, ways and biblical teachings of our Lord in a manner that your child can understand.
It is a two-way street, of course, between parent and church. Both need to be intentional about connecting with the other so the parent will know what the church is teaching her kid. Some churches provide a written summary each Sunday to give to the parents stating what was covered that morning session. Some student ministries send e-newsletters to parents keeping them up to date on what they are teaching the teens.
If you are a parent and such information is not provided, feel free to ask your child’s teacher what was covered today. There is probably a lot that went on and you need to know about it. These updates will provide all kinds of follow up material for you to discuss with your child later on.
2) Feedback from another perspective. Church age group leaders build trusting relationships with the kids in their ministry. Week by week they get to know them, learn their moods, etc. They see kids in a different setting than parents do. These leaders can share valuable information to moms and dads. For example, if a child is feeling sad the whole time, or if they really catch on to a biblical concept, the teacher can let the parent know for proper follow up. Through consistent attendance, the communication and trust between parent and leader can build.
(Notice I said consistent, not constant attendance. For example, if a child lives with one parent every other weekend, that consistency can be enough for the church leader to know the child and keep the parent informed.)
3) Opportunities for parents to “let go” of their kids. The saying goes, “Time waits for no man”. (Or parents.) Growing up happens fast. Although the years can be swift, the church can support parents at each stage of the journey.Growing up happens fast. The years can be swift, but the church can support parents at each stage of the way. Click To Tweet
A primary role of a parent is to prepare their children to be on their own, make their choices, have their own adventures, etc. This launching into adulthood does not need to be a brutally sudden event. Too many times that happens and it is traumatic to the child making the adjustment difficult.
Rather, letting go along the way helps your child to ease into adulthood gradually rather than crashing into it. The church has numerous offerings for parents to let go as your kid grows up. Consider these ‘firsts’, beginning very early:
- The first Sunday morning in the church nursery (as my grandkids recently experienced!)
- The first “big church’ instead of kids worship
- The first student activity
- The first church student camp
- The first church lock-in
- The first mission trip
- The first Sunday in a young adult small group instead of a student one
Whew! Did we get that kid from nursery into adulthood rather quickly or what? Indeed time waits for no one, but these letting go opportunities can help establish some independence in your child, stage by stage, helping him (and you) adjust to his transition into adulthood.
The church was hugely beneficial in helping us raise our girls. We experienced so many resources and encouragement from church leaders along the way! When your church provides the biblical teaching, the feedback relationships and the letting go opportunities for parents, the partnership can blossom!