It’s taken me a few days weeks to process the different things I heard at Orange. I’m not one of those that can live blog or just throw up a list of notes. I need time to sort it out.
Of course, I had to take everything I learned and pull it through the lens of a parent because this conference was designed for pastors and other full-time ministry type people. The main thrust is that the church should be less segmented and more focused on raising up the next generation while supporting and encouraging the others. That everyone should be working together.
One breakout session was called,”Partnering With Parents”. When I was a Children’s Pastor I thought it was the most important job in the world because I could see that many parents were not actively pouring into their children. They were not following Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and making God’s Word central in their lives. I felt like church was the one place even our churched kids were going to find out about the Bible!
But even if I did my very best for those kids and they came to church EVERY SINGLE Sunday of the year that would only be 52 hours a year to impress them with God’s Word. While parents have about 3000 unstructured hours per year. I wish I had spent some of my energy on helping the parents with those 3000 hours! Parents ARE their child’s biggest influence–over friends, tv, coaches and teachers. Every child wants to please their parents.
The problem is that parents don’t know how to influence their kids for the Lord. They feel overwhelmed and barely able to stay afloat themselves. Pastors and churches need to help parents WIN at home. I feel like this is one reason I’m so passionate about Impress Your Kids. I knew that Children’s Ministry and my job as the full-time Pastor was so important but now I get a chance to influence the 3000 hours a week! Not just the less than 52!
So, this breakout session encouraged churches to think of experiences they can bring to their families. Not just events like a VBS or a special service. (Which could be used, too!) But things that kids and adults can experience together to bring about transformation in relationships and lives.
Churches need to figure out how to put stuff in parent’s hands–helping parents actually act out Deuteronomy 6. Helping parents walk along the road and talk about God, speaking God’s Word when they go to bed and get up. Helping parents facilitate dialogue, not just information about God and His plans.
They had some great ideas for doing this:
1. Baby Dedication. This sounds like an old thing, but it’s been revamped by having parents listen to some lessons on parenting, then doing some homework that involves choosing 5 values they want to instill in their child. At the baby dedication (which is a big fun event), the parents share their values with their family and friends. This group of people pray with the family and promise to partner with them. It’s a first step that gets parents thinking about exactly WHAT they are going to do for their child. (Our church actually does this. Here’s my post about Asa’s dedication.)
2. Small Group Parent Breakfast. Many churches have some sort of small groups for kids (this could be Sunday School, midweek programs or small groups during a “children’s church” setting). But how many times have the parents and the small group leaders actually met? How about hosting a breakfast where the small group leaders sit around a table and just talk to the parents? No grilling required. Just mutual love for the same kids. Talk about ganging up on your kids! I love this! (See Middle School Shine for more.)
3. The Great Family Experiment. This is so cool–the church designs a family night complete with questions for discussion, food and activities. But it’s not at the church. It’s not hosted by the pastor. It’s a take-home activity for the family to do on their own! How great is that?! Parents want to do it but don’t know how! So, the church does the hard part for them! (I’ve got an idea rumbling around in my head and heart for this…)
There are tons of other ideas. But the idea is that churches should be helping parents live out their God-given command to impress God’s Word on their children. May I suggest that if your church is not in some way helping you be a parent, you might need to evaluate why you are going to that church and if it really is the most beneficial for your family. Your church doesn’t have to do the exact things listed above, be post-modern or subscribe to specific “orange” philosophy. But they should be leveraging their 52 hours for your 3000!
photo source: christine tm