I’ve got a question for you: Did you ever have a phone that had a home button on it? I would be willing to say that most of us did, especially if you had an iPhone back in 2007. That home button on your iPhone, as well as many other brands, was the most pressed button on that device. Think about it – How many times do you think you would push that button on your phone during the day? If you’re like me, that home button gets more “pressing time” than our favorite waffle maker. But seriously, have you ever counted the times you’ve pressed the home button to clear out your screen, open apps, and get you back where you needed to be?
When it comes to our screens, there can be a lot of open apps, web pages, games, music selections, and so many others to distract us from what we really could be doing, and that home button could make all those distractions go away. With phones constantly changing, that home button has now almost become completely obsolete, but it was one of the main buttons to get things started on our phones – all you had to do was press it; it was that simple.
When it comes to children’s ministry, how many times are we thinking about the real home button and what it would take to get our families to push it to get things started? And after they pick up their kids from church? Would they need more resources? Would they need better communication? Would they need the sock finder app as little Johnny and Jane always seem to lose their socks at the church? All of their needs could be summed up into one single word, intentionality.
When we’re intentional with getting out what we’re communicating for weekly programming, we can resource and empower our families to continue discipleship after the services conclude. I know you’re probably thinking, “Gee, Ashley, this all sounds great, but how can we pull this off?” I’m so glad you asked. We began by making it simple for our families. Parents can sometimes be intimidated by formal devotions or may even feel inadequate about discipling their children and will often tell their children to listen to their leaders at church, and that is completely normal. As children’s leaders, it’s our duty and calling to partner with our parents and empower them to fully engage with their children in the Word of God.
This can be done a number of different ways, but remember simple is the key.
When our parents pick up their children from church, we make sure that there is a tool in their hands to take home with them. This can be a simple color sheet featuring the story or Bible character that was discussed that week. These color sheets can also feature a simple family devotional on the back that includes easy prompts to help parents engage with their children about the lesson. It can even have some simple questions to ask and the answers included, (haha). These talking points can be done before bed, during dinner, or even on the way to school the next morning. These talking points really get the conversation going, and it empowers parents to really dive-in to what they’re children are learning.
You could even create a simple postcard that illustrates the Armor of God, and parents can teach this to their children before school the next day. We created core value posters for our families and, while it’s a great behavioral tool in services, in the home, it becomes a powerful guideline for a child’s daily life. In turn, it can also impact their parents. I’ll often get an email or phone call from a parent that wants more information, and I get to provide them with additional resources to keep the family conversation going. It’s been very successful. There again, simple.
Discipleship for our parents should be a daily way of life, not necessarily a formal program. Daily actions and involvement tips could even be placed on a fridge magnet calendar with each day featuring a different area to pray for over their children. This would make a great first time visitor gift. While time is often limited in parents’ lives, it is also such a precious gift.
I have a pastor friend that gathers his kids around the table or sofa, and they take turns saying nice things about the other family members each day. While this is a simple exercise, it reinforces positive feelings and encourages children to really think about what they want to tell their family members. It also sets a daily reminder for children that they are going to hear something positive about themselves from others. This is a great way to help our parents “break the ice” with their children and get the conversation going.
This season seems to always be the time of year that we slow down a little bit and spend that quality time with our families. Ministry can be quite busy and oftentimes inconvenient, but it’s in those quality times that our families grow closer together – It’s meaningful; it’s intentional. While most churches have an annual serve day for their volunteers to help out in the community, I fully believe that children can also play a huge part in serving others. Whether it be writing cards to our first responders, delivering baked goods to our local doctors offices, or even visiting retirement homes and bringing some goodies or craft kits, all of these service projects will bring smiles to the community and give children a servant heart. Then, head out for some hot chocolate and donut holes, because those make everyday great!
I challenge you and your children’s ministry teams to really think of fun and creative ways to get discipleship back in the home, while making it simple for our parents. Out of the average number of 50 weeks per year that we get to spend with children, let’s make every effort to make each week count.
Ashley Clinton has been serving on staff as the Children’s Pastor at Christ Church in West Monroe, Louisiana since 2018. He is passionate about making an eternal impact on the next generation of Christ followers through creative programming and building and empowering teams. Ashley is a DLI alumni and has the honor of serving alongside his bride, Laura, of 16 years. Together, they have three children Jackson (20), Jacob (19) and Lexie Rae (14). Ashley and Laura love their family time, ballroom dancing and family game nights.