4 EXAMPLES OF AN EVENT PROGRAM FOR PARENT MINISTRY
Do you ever struggle to come up with a program for your event? Maybe you plan summer camp and weekend getaways in your sleep, but zone out when it comes to filling in the blanks for a parent meeting. I totally get it, which is why I give you 4 examples of an event program for parent ministry.
The 1st example of an event program for parent ministry is Introduction. Make sure you create an environment where parents meet other parents and encourage one another.
Parenting is a team sport. Therefore when parents work alongside each other, both parties can do more than they could imagine- simply because they did not go alone. During the introduction, create some built-in connection moments into your meeting by setting up an introduction that parents didn’t expect.
First, arrange your meeting space so that parents are sitting in groups according to their child’s grade. For example, all the parents of 2nd graders sit together or group 1st to 3rd grade together. In student ministry, group together the parents of high schoolers. And so on.
This strategy sets the stage to surprise parents with an opportunity to build new relationships they did not know.
Several decades ago, I heard a message at a conference about the three types of biblical relationships. They listed three people from the Scriptures and the roles they played in others’ lives.
- Paul: an older mentor who walked a little further down the road.
- Barnabas: a friend in the same life stage who understands and provides encouragement.
- Timothy: a younger person who offers an older mentor the opportunity to invest.
With attention to the right environment, all three of these friendships are available to parents in your ministry.
Help them meet a “Paul.”
Invite some empty nesters to your event and allow them to share the story of their parenting journey. Make sure to tell the group that they will stay after the event to answer any questions.
Help them meet a “Barnabas.”
Arrange the seating, so parents in the same stage of parenting sit together. As a result, parents find a “Barnabas” friend on whom they can rely!
Help them meet a “Timothy.”
Add a significant moment to your event by inviting parents who are new to the community or church. When you come to the end of a meeting, introduce them, and inspire other parents to remember how it felt to be in their shoes. In addition to the moment, encourage them to take a few minutes to thank God for what He’s given them as a parent. Ask them to pray over the new parents as they continue in their parenting adventure!
Although this moment can be serious or emotional, you have a choice to do it a different way. Maybe introduce them with a homemade award from the dollar store item spraypainted with gold or an inflatable swim cookie signed by other parents. Don’t be afraid to have fun. The way to get students to engage with each other is by playing silly games. Equally, parents do as well! They might not be expecting to have a good time, so imagine their surprise when you splash them with a little bit of fun.
When you use the program element of Introduction, parents anticipate the events and look forward to engaging with other parents.
The 2nd example of an event program for parent ministry is Information.
At some point, you’ve got to get down to business. Even if the event is purely a social gathering, never miss an opportunity to give details about your ministry.
Prepare an agenda that gives parents a summary of everything you plan to share. This plan will increase clarity and decrease confusion. It’s also essential to stick to the agenda you made. Staying focused earns the trust of parents and shows you respect their time.
Be sure to provide everything you discuss in writing. Parents daydream just like students, so you want to send all the information discussed home with them.
Share the following details:
- Give the parents details about your weekly programming. Share about your Bible teaching, explain any special announcements, or introduce the small group leaders.
- Communicate significant events to add to their calendar. Are you planning a summer camp, a fall retreat, or a mission trip? As a youth or children’s pastor, once you set a date, make a brief mention during your event so they can plan.
- Offer forms, permission slips, and funds. Do parents need to complete permission slips? Do any events need help with fundraisers?
- Share about volunteer needs. Parents make great volunteers! Take this opportunity to provide information about areas of service, how to get the process started, and the amazing benefits of serving.
A few tips for your meetings:
- If forms need notarizations, invite a notary to attend the event and do them for free! Save the parents time.
- Parents are more likely to volunteer when you have specific jobs. The more specific you are, the easier it is for them to decide if it’s a fit.
Although giving them details about your ministry is essential, don’t make the mistake of thinking that information is the sole reason for parent meetings and events. There’s so much more to it!
The 3rd example of an event program for parent ministry is Inspiration, and it should trump Information every single time.
When you invite inspiration into your event, you have the potential to turn your meeting into a moment! To inspire parents, you must be willing to jump into their personal lives and offer them hope.
So let’s say you’ve arranged the event seating so that parents are sitting with kids in the same grade. Now the stage is set for you to share some encouragement. Here are two methods to connect with their hearts and inspire them.
Time Machine: Past
Put them in a time machine and take them back to reflect on their upbringing. Each person has a story. Maybe they were raised by parents who invested in them or perhaps they know the pain of going through life without the blessing from the ones who raised them. Either way, it’s hard to get clear about how you want to parent until you face your childhood.
I always joke and say, “You might have paid a lot of money in therapy to deal with this stuff, but I ask you to think about it again for just one moment.”
I ask them to make a list of the things they received as a child that they want to repeat. These items are the blessings from their parents that they want to pass on to the next generation. I call it the “Repeat List.”
After that, I ask them to make a list of what they want do not want to pass on. These moments are the ones where they declare in their heart, “This ends with me!” I call it the “Rebel List.”
Once they have the two lists (Repeat and Rebel), they are ready to begin thinking about the type of parents they want to be.
Time Machine: Future
There is so much inspiration available through dreaming. When you ask your parents to identify the hopes in regards to their kids, you consequently use a natural source of inspiration to connect. Set aside a few moments where parents can share some of those dreams or write them down.
Next, invite them into the future with one request: “I’d like you to imagine the 30-year-old version of your child or teenager.” Encourage the parents to keep that picture in their head and consider this question: “How do I need to parent today in a way that will shape my child into that 30-year-old?”
When parents ponder that question, they often begin to feel inspired, which leads to connection. That’s where the magic happens.
Parents come in thinking about a meeting and leave with a moment.
The 4th example of an event program for parent ministry is Ideas.
Within the event, give parents ideas of how to face their struggle and overcome it. We can all agree parenting is hard, so when your church offers parents a resource to addresses a struggle, you make an immediate and significant impact.
Books, brochures, and handouts are great. I also love digital resources. It’s easy for them to download, and it connects them to your website. Whatever format you choose, you should give a free resource to everyone that attends your event.
If you need more material and resources for your website or your parent ministry events, we can help! Our M2P Membership offers online parenting classes and ministry toolbox resources that you can share with all of your parents. It’s just another way for us to come alongside you and partner with you in ministry.
Ultimately, that’s why we do what we do. We want to help you minister to the families in your church.
Today’s blog post wraps up our month-long emphasis on planning excellent parent events. If you missed the previous posts on the Type of Parents to Reach through Events, click HERE! If you missed the 4 Examples of Parent Events, click HERE!
In the meantime, I hope you add Introduction, Information, Inspiration, and Ideas to all your parent events. With these 4 examples of an event program for parent ministry, you will host a successful event. It will be an experience they’ll never forget!
Jeremy Lee is the founder of Ministry to Parents, co-author of Pass It On and has more than twenty-four years of ministry experience. He is passionate about helping ministers create strategic plans for connecting with the parents in their church. He lives outside Nashville, Tn with his wife Elisabeth and two sons. You can contact him at www.ministrytoparents.com.
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