Training Small Group Leaders and Sunday School Teachers to Honor Parents
Volunteer small group leaders and Sunday School teachers provide a way to connect with many more parents than we, as ministry leaders, can on our own. Training them well helps us to multiply ourselves in ministering to families. There are several key areas where you can teach your volunteers to honor parents as the primary spiritual leaders in the lives of their kids, facilitating deeper relationships between parent and child. Below are things you can teach your volunteers to help them connect with parents.
- Build Relationships with the Entire Family
Take advantage of drop-off and pick-up times to get to know families. It’s easy to focus entirely on the child entering a classroom and just give a brief wave or hello to parents. But using this time to learn their names, getting to know them, and asking how they’re doing, helps you connect not just with their child but with them. A relationship with parents opens the door to a vital supportive role in their family’s lives, encouraging them to make faith at home a priority.
- Praise Their Children
Instead of talking to parents about their kids only when they do something wrong, make a point to praise the positive characteristics you see in their child. Better yet, do it with the child and parent together. Not only does this encourage parents that others see godly traits in their kids, but it also demonstrates praising a child for who they are and not always for what they do. In addition, a parent’s praise of their child’s character helps increase a child’s awareness of God’s gifts in them.
- Promote Tools to Use at Home
We often overwhelm parents with all the things we send home – craft projects, announcements, calendars, and resources. As you hand them papers, take a few moments to highlight how the resources you’re giving them can be used at home or give a quick explanation of the purpose behind family events. If parents know why something is important, they are much more likely to invest in it as a tool to incorporate at home.
- Pray for Them in Person
Parenting is hard. Families need our prayers for strong relationships between parents and children. Praying for the families you serve throughout the week is wonderful but praying for them in person lets them know you are truly committed to supporting them. Ask families if and how you can pray for them right then and there. These prayers don’t have to be long or fancy to impact parents and kids with the knowledge that we care deeply about their relationships.
- Include Parents in Milestone Steps
When a child inquires about and expresses a desire to make a confession of faith, our first instinct might be to pray with them at that moment. It’s not a wrong desire, but it does leave parents out of the most important decision their children can make. Honor them by waiting to invite mom and dad to facilitate that special time. It’s as simple as telling a child you are happy for them and that their parents will want to be part of this exciting decision to follow Jesus. What a wonderful, spiritual milestone for them to experience together. This same approach can apply to a child wanting their first Bible or making the decision to be baptized. It’s certainly helpful for you to guide families when they need it, and including parents shows that you honor them as the primary spiritual influence in their children’s lives.
Leading a small group or teaching Sunday School is an important, eternal investment in the lives of children. But the opportunity to impact an entire family is even more important. Kids are in your volunteers’ care for an hour or two each week; they’re with their parents the rest of the time. Honoring parents and elevating their place in the lives of their children helps develop strong family relationships that go beyond the walls of the church into their daily lives as followers of Jesus.