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Deuteronomy 6:7—Let’s Help Parents Do It!

MINISTRY DIRECTION

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” Deuteronomy 6:5-7.

Family Praying

Sometimes it seems that as a children’s minister I am held primarily responsible for faith development in children. Biblically, that isn’t the case. In Deuteronomy 6 the mandate is clearly given to mothers and fathers. They are to love God completely and teach His commands to their children within the context of daily living. However, this Old Testament mandate was not the responsibility of the family alone. The parents’ instruction was to be affirmed by a loving faith community. What was modeled and taught in the home was also modeled and taught within the community. The family and community partnered together to nurture faith in the next generation.

In the New Testament parents are also challenged to teach their children in the ways of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4 ). But again, this is done within the faith community—a faith community that has been given the mandate to prepare God’s people (even kids) for works of service and bring all believers (even kids) to spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:11-13).

So, if we are to biblically and effectively nurture faith in our children, we cannot JUST provide effective ministry to children. We must also help parents live out Deuteronomy 6:5-7.

Here are some ways that local churches can help parents live out Deuteronomy 6:5-7:

  • Have consistent, fervent prayer for families.
  • Provide support for parents. “The primary need of parents is not of information about how to parent. It is for that which meets their own personal needs. We can have a greater impact on children by ministering to their parents than in any other way” (A THEOLOGY OF CHILDREN’S MINISTRY, Lawrence O. Richards.)
  • Equip parents for parenting. What do parents need to know, be, and do to accomplish Deuteronomy 6:5-7?

IDEAS YOU CAN USE!

Family ColoringPray for Families

Adopt a Family. Each childless or elderly couples in the church might be assigned to pray for a specific family of the congregation.

Family Spotlight. Highlight a family each week for prayer and ministry.

Family Intercession. Place the name of each family or a family photograph on the walls of the sanctuary or another large meeting area in your church. Instruct intercessors to move around the area praying for each family. Provide a prayer guide for them to pray through as they intercede for each family.

Meet the Needs of Families

Financial Needs.

  • Clothes-To-Go. Provide clean, slightly used children’s clothing at a minimal cost prior to back-to-school and in the early spring.
  • Back To School Shopping. Provide school supplies by allowing children to earn points during a specified time for participating in various ministry activities. These points are then used to “shop” for school supplies that have been donated by participating merchants or purchased at reduced cost.
  • Scholarships. To help children participate in extra curricula church activities such as a sports team or a camping program, offer scholarships that have been provided by members of your congregation or local community businesses. Include scholarship requirements such as faithful attendance at children’s ministry events, etc.
  • Etc. Discover other finance-related needs that parents in your congregation encounter. Determine a creative plan of action to help them meet those needs.

Support.

Local churches that are in partnership with parents and children address the need for support that families have during various stages of life.

  • New Baby. The birth of a baby provides a great opportunity to connect parents with the church. Help provide support in the following ways—
    • Prenatal classes. Provide informative and interactive sessions to expecting parents on caring for their new baby. During the prenatal sessions also share effective discipline tips for infants and toddlers as well as ideas and resources for nurturing their faith. Make the sessions attractive to working parents-to-be by providing a simple meal and keeping them short and practical.
    • Showering Baby With Love. Have a baby shower for all the new parents within a specified number of months. If possible, provide a small but practical gift for each family such as a simple book on parenting. Include refreshments, a tour of your church nursery, and an introduction of your nursery staff. Take family pictures and plan an activity that will allow new parents to meet each other.
    • Baby Dedication. The baby dedication is a wonderful opportunity to challenge parents and the congregation to form a partnership that is intentionally focused on each child’s faith development.
  • Crisis. Every family faces crises at some point—death, sickness, loss of job, marital conflict and/or divorce, addiction, and more. What will the church do to help the family during these times of crises
    • Relationships. More than anything else, the church can offer loving, supportive relationships. One of the most effective ways of developing these relationships within the church is through small groups.
    • Support groups. If several families within the congregation are experiencing similar crises, a support group could be formed. The support group would provide a safe environment for sharing struggles related to the crises. The group leader would also provide information and resources as needed related to effectively managing the crisis.
    • Hands-on assistance. During times of crisis families often need help accomplishing the daily tasks—grocery shopping, meal preparation, transporting children to activities, childcare, etc. Churches can step in with an organized plan for helping the family accomplish these tasks during the crisis.

Equip Families

The local church has often fulfilled its role of equipping families through conferences, seminars, and instructional resources. These are good but perhaps not as effective as more relational, hands-on activities.

  • Family Worship. Regularly have a night of family worship, worship that is directed to families with preschool and school-aged children. This night of worship is not worship by adults, for adults. It’s all about families. Provide opportunities for parents to lead their children in interactive activities related to prayer, worship, and the Word.
  • Family Service. Plan a family service project where each family is given a task to complete and each family member is involved in completing the task. Celebrate the completion of the project with family awards, fun, and food!
  • Family Fun Event. Bring families in your congregation together for a family night out. Show a movie, plan a scavenger hunt or a family Olympics. Conclude the event with an interactive devotional that families can do together.
  • Family Mentors. Ask older couples who have successfully nurtured faith in their children, to mentor parents of young children. Mentoring will include developing intimate and trusting relationships, praying consistently for the parents and their children, and meeting regularly to discuss parenting challenges.
  • Creating a Faith Environment. Just as seedlings grow when the environment is right, children’s faith will grow in the right environment. You can help parents create that environment by—
    • Encouraging parents to consistently practice the disciplines of faith such as prayer, Bible reading, giving, worship, witnessing, belonging and serving with a community of believers, etc.
      Idea: Offer a family Sunday school or midweek class for several weeks on a discipline such as prayer, Bible study, or giving. Teach kids and parents how to practice Christian disciplines through hands-on activities. Assign a family project or homework that can be done together.
    • Encouraging parents to talk about God with their children.
      • Tell your story. Encourage children to talk with their children about life experiences that spoke to them of God’s presence and work in their lives.
      • Idea: Provide each family with a “Tell Me” family scrapbook. At the top of each page of the scrapbook write one “Tell Me” story starter. (A suggested Bible story reference and a Scripture verse could also be included so that the scrapbook activity could be used as a family devotion.) Ask families to work together to complete one page of the scrapbook each week with a true family story illustrated with a drawing, photo or object. Some suggested “Tell Me” story starters are–
        • Tell me about a time when God provided something our family needed.
        • Tell me about a time when God protected our family.
        • Tell me about a time when God showed our family what we ought to do or where we should go.
        • Tell me about a time when God helped our family in a difficult situation.
      • When the project is completed, bring families together for a time of sharing. Let each family share one of their favorite “Tell Me” stories.
  • Learn together. Sometimes parents don’t have the answer to their children’s questions. Encourage them to learn together with their children.
  • Encouraging parents to establish family rituals. Family rituals establish order in the home, help family members connect with one another, and provide opportunities for transformation. Idea: Bring families in your church together to make a craft that could be used in a holiday ritual. For a Christmas ritual families could make an advent wreath or a nativity. For an Easter ritual families could make a set of resurrection eggs (Each of the twelve plastic eggs contain an object related to the Easter story.)

RESOURCE REVIEW

Partnering with Parents in Youth Ministry, The Key to Reaching Youth and Parents for Christ by Jim Burns and Mike DeVries. Published by GospelLight, Address, phone, website. Cost: $14.99

The most powerful force in a young person’s life is his or her family. Partnering with Parents in Youth Ministry reveals a youth pastor’s unique role in helping families succeed. Youth workers will learn to focus on equipping, encouraging and networking parents so that they can nurture the spiritual growth of their children. The book also provides myriad practical ideas: devotions, discussion starters, parent small-group curriculum, family retreats, parent retreats, games, forums and more to help youth pastors implement this life-changing ministry in their church. While this book focuses on youth ministry, I believe that children’s ministers will gain valuable insight and ideas for partnering with parents in children’s ministry.

Family Night Tool Chest Series by Jim Weidmann and others. Available from Chariot Victor Publishing, Address, 800-426-6596, (719) 536-0100, website. Cost: $12.99 each.

The Heritage Builders’ Family Night Tool Chest Series offers 10 different tool chest topics as well as an Introduction to Family Nights. These Tool Chest booklets will provide a helpful guide and creative activities for parents who are pursuing their children’s faith development.
Wisdom and Life Skills
Simple Science
Christian Character Traits
10 Commandments
Basic Christian Beliefs
Holidays
Money Matters
Ready for Adolescence
Old Testament Bible Stories for Preschoolers
New Testament Bible Stories for Preschoolers

This post was first published in the CM Newsletter Volume 10, Issue 7, July 2006

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