How are you discipling families in your church? You may not have a formal family ministry, but having some sort of discipleship plan for parents and children isn’t optional.
In days like these, where churches, schools, and kids’ extracurricular activities aren’t operating like they used to, your families need discipleship and community more than ever.
After all, if people aren’t finding discipleship and community in your church, they’ll go somewhere else—like Facebook or Netflix. And while those things aren’t bad in themselves, they’re bad by themselves. Meaning, Facebook is a terrible disciple-maker (as evidenced by a quick scroll through the comments section).
However, there are lots of ways your church can grow in partnering with and discipling parents and children—and some of them take no time to start and sustain.
Take up the charge with these four practical, easy-to-apply pillars for your church’s family ministry:
1. Know the families in your church
You can’t personally minister to someone you don’t know. Period.
You and I both know that ministry isn’t one-size-fits-all. In every conversation, you’re talking to someone with a different story and struggles than you. But those differences don’t disqualify you from ministering to them—rather, they’re an invitation to witness God’s work in someone else’s life.
For example, look at Paul’s ministry. Throughout Acts and the Epistles, Paul clearly understood something about the people he talked to and customized his message to fit their setting (Acts 17 is a great example).
You don’t have to know every single thing about a person to offer pastoral care, but you should know at least some of the basics, such as:
- What was their childhood like? (You don’t need a full backstory—just a little detail about their home and family.)
- Who’s in their family? (Specifically, spouse and children, but extended family can sometimes be relevant too.)
- What are some of the most formative events in their life?
- In what areas are they struggling most? Where do they need help and/or encouragement?
Once you know those details about a member or family in your congregation, you’re responsible to remember them on behalf of your church. After all, a day may come when a family you know well needs pastoral care, and you’re not available. Do the others on your staff or leadership team know enough to offer specific care for the families in your church?
2. Communicate well
Now, communication may seem like a no-brainer to you, and I’ll be honest—a few years ago, I would have thought the same thing. But with technology moving so quickly, church communication is growing more complicated by the day (or so it seems).
Think about it:
- When my grandparents were young parents, they kept in touch with their church through in-person announcements, mailers, print bulletins, and phone calls (remember rotary phones?).
- In my parents’ day, churches started using websites and email on top of analog communications. What an advancement!
- My generation has seen churches move away from analog printed pieces—some churches even flirted with churchwide texting services.
- Today, churches are leaning more heavily on digital communications. Mailers are out; text messaging, church apps, QR codes, and social media are in. Some high school and college students even skip reading email entirely.
I can’t tell you which communication channels are right for your church. So much of that depends on who calls your church home.
But I can say two things:
- Communicating well is essential for church family ministry.
- Your church communication can unintentionally leave out certain groups of people. You can say you value diversity in age and ethnicity, but your actions may tell another story.
For churches to communicate well with everyone, you’ll need a multi-pronged strategy. There’s no silver bullet here. That means you’ll need to weigh all the options available (including printed items, mailers, email, texting, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.), and choose a few to focus on. You’ll want to make sure you’re reaching different groups with each platform. For example, if I were choosing which channels to focus on, I might pick email, texting, and Instagram, since those tend to connect with groups that overlap less.
3. Give them community
When parents in your church have questions, do you want them to go to Google or more experienced parents in your congregation? If we’re talking diaper rash cures, sure, Google will do. But what about when it comes to having “the talk” or answering kids’ never-ending questions about where God lives?
Wouldn’t you rather provide community where Christian parents in your area can share wisdom and encouragement?
For some churches, this looks like establishing a family ministry—and you’ll never hear me discouraging formal ministries inside the church. But that’s not an option for everyone due to capacity, budget, or ministry philosophy. However, you don’t have to run life-stage specific ministries to give parents a place to connect.
Instead, you can create an email list for parents and ask a few of your most trusted members (who are also experienced parents) to shape the content. They can curate regular emails with encouragement and tips for parents and even schedule small meet-ups with parents in different neighborhoods or stages.
Depending on what serves your congregation best, you can create one list for all parents with kids in high school or below, or you could even have multiple, more focused lists like:
- Parents of preschoolers or teens
- Parents of kids with disabilities
- First-time moms
- Single parents
Whatever you do, make sure you remember the families on the fringes and consider how you can make them feel welcomed and included.
Ministry to families takes work, but it’s absolutely worth it.
Thankfully, church management systems like Servant Keeper can ease the load. With Servant Keeper, you can set up reports for parents in your church who have kids at home or students who might be interested in your youth ministry. Those reports will automatically update, so you know you’re looking at the most recent info, and you can use those lists to communicate with the right people. On top of that, you also get tools like notes and attendance tracking that help prevent anyone from falling through the cracks.
Let our team at Servant Keeper show you more tools you need to care for families—without getting lost in spreadsheets or to-do lists. Schedule a personalized demo with our church tech experts to learn how Servant Keeper can support your ministry endeavors.