How do your
kids' parents view you? Are you the baby sitter they leave their
kids with before driving off? Are you the entertainer who's
expected to show their kids a fun time or else they will find
somewhere else to go? Or are you their kids' spiritual leader, the
only source of faith building they receive?
According to the Barna Research Group, a majority of parents "do
not spend any time during a typical week discussing religious
matters or studying religious materials with their children."
Parents who take their children to church with them tend to rely on
the church to do the heavy lifting spiritually.
The truth is that you should just be one part of parents' plans
to strengthen their kids in the area of God and faith. Many
churches are turning their children's ministry into family
ministries, and I can see why. We should make it our goal to help
parents be strong leaders of faith in their households. With that
in mind, here are five steps you can take to help parents take the
lead role in their kids' spiritual lives.
1. Engage. The Barna research went on to say
that only one out of every five parents of children under 13 has
been contacted by a leader in the church to talk about their
child's spiritual life. We need to reach out to parents! This
doesn't mean signing them up to volunteer. Hold events that parents
want to participate in as well, like family movie nights or
parent/child days out. Invite parents into your ministry, let them
know who you are, and get to know them. By making connections with
you and with other parents, adults will feel more comfortable.
2. Explain. Many parents don't realize how to
pass their faith and values on to their kids. Focus on the Family and the Heritage Builders
provide many great tips for parents. They suggest that parents look
for "AROMA" in their households: Affection, Respect, Order,
Merriment, and Affirmation. Explain to parents that their
household should be a loving place where a discussion about God and
faith could happen at any time. Remind parents that they can turn
anything, from listening to the radio to talking at dinner, into a
time to build kids up spiritually.
3. Equip. Continuing with the Barna research,
the study says that, "Parents are not so much unwilling to
provide more substantive training to their children as they are
ill-equipped to do such work. According to the
research, parents typically have no plan for the
spiritual development of their children; they do not consider it a
priority, have little or no training in how to nurture a child's
faith, have no related standards or goals that they are seeking to
satisfy, and experience no accountability for their efforts."
Many parents want to make a difference, but aren't sure how to
start. We need to provide support to help them build up their kids' faith.
Talk with parents and find out their needs. Let parents know what
you're teaching, and help them supplement the lesson at home. Give
suggestions on where parents can turn to find positive
4. Example. Kids don't just look like their
parents; they act like them as well. Kids will often pick up on
their parents' habits. A recent study looked at how parents can help
overweight kids. Some parents changed their kids' diets, while
others took their kids to clinics and camps. But the kids who lost
the most weight were those who had parents who lost weight
themselves. The kids were inspired by their parents' physical
I believe the same goes for spiritually active parents. It will
rub off on children. Remind parents that they are the ultimate role
models for kids. You can't live by "do as I say, not as I do."
Challenge parents to set an example that they want their kids to
5. Encourage. Always give encouragement to your
parents. It can be tough raising kids, and you can be there for
parents by praying for them and supporting them. Remind them about
Proverbs 22:6, "Direct your children onto the right path, and when
they are older, they will not leave it."Also remind them of the
message of Ephesians 6:4, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to
anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the
discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord."
By working with parents, we can make a huge impact on the lives
of our kids. I want to know how you partner with parents to help
them be their children's spiritual leaders. Share with us your
tips, strategies, and stories! Leave your comments below.