Understanding The Type of Parents Who Come to Church
Written by Jeremy Lee
This month’s focus at Ministry to Parents helps you build an excellent parent ministry through EVENTS, and today, I want to help in understanding the type of parent who comes to church and how to reach them.
Previously on the blog, we discussed “Why You Should Have a Parent Ministry,” and then I gave you the details on “Four Parent Events to Offer this Year.” If you missed those posts, click on the titles to catch up!
Three Types of Parents Who Come to Church
Every church has three types of parents, and when you host an event, it’s important to understand who is coming so you can prepare a great experience for them. Allow me to introduce to you each type of parent and how to reach each one.
#1- THE PARKING LOT PARENT
The Parking Lot Parent is a type of parent who rarely comes to church. They drop their child or teenager off at your weekly event and return to pick them up when it’s over. They don’t attend church, and they aren’t engaged in spiritually leading their child.
One of the most common questions I receive from ministers is, “How am I supposed to help parents who never enter the door of the church?”
That’s a great question! Events can be a useful tool to engage the Parking Lot Parent, but what kind of event works for the parent who doesn’t even attend your church?
The Parking Lot Parent responds well to seminars or events centered around parenting pain points. They may not be interested in your weekly programs, but if you offer something that addresses a struggle in their life, they will suddenly show interest.
Here are some seminar ideas that resonate with Parking Lot Parents and help solve problems they face:
* Teens and Screens: Ideas to Help your Teenager Spend Less Time on Technology.
I don’t know a parent who is not concerned about the amount of time their child spends looking at a screen. There is an enormous amount of material and statistics available online about teens and screens, so take advantage of the opportunity to share some of it with these parents. You can also invite school officials, pediatricians, and local experts to participate in the event.
* Financial Aid and College Prep Help: Learn about Scholarship Opportunities and How to Prepare for the Perfect College Experience.
Who doesn’t need help navigating college prep? This event appeals to a lot of parents and could include local guidance counselors, ACT/SAT tutors, and representatives from the admissions department at colleges near you. Make sure to invite some of your parents who’ve recently navigated this stage of the parenting journey. They can share lessons learned and fellowship with the other parents.
* Help! I’m the Parent of a Middle Schooler: How to Navigate the Middle School Years.
To host this event, invite local middle school principals, guidance counselors, and teachers to speak or set up booths to meet with parents. You could also ask family counselors, pediatricians, and area medical professionals to answer questions and discuss issues concerning physical and emotional development.
This event also provides a wonderful opportunity for experienced parents to share what they learned from parenting through this stage.
* Kids and Anxiety: Does your Child Struggle with Anxiety? We’ve got some Expert Help Coming your Way.
Anxiety is on the rise in our country–particularly in the lives of our kids. To address this issue, consider partnering with a local counseling center or an author who has written on the subject of anxiety. This event would be a great encouragement, as well as connect parents with resources to help their kids who struggle with this issue.
* Scream-Free Homes: Ready to Stop the Yelling at Home? Join us for Ideas on How to Fight Less and Talk More.
Another seminar strategy is to address the common issues many families face. Most parents can admit to losing their cool and saying things they regret. This event gives you a chance to offer help and connect with Parking Lot Parents.
Each of these examples is an actual parent seminar that M2P members created in their ministry. Feel free to offer one of these seminars or use them to spark an idea for your own seminar.
#2- THE CONNECTED PARENT
The Connected Parent is a type of parent who comes to church with their kid and is a believer. However, they struggle with how to be a spiritual leader in their home.
The idea of helping someone else with their relationship with God is intimidating to these parents. They are trying to figure out their relationship with God, so they feel ill-equipped to help someone else understand it.
What kind of parent event ministers to The Connected Parent?
* Training Sessions
Not only do they serve partly as a pep rally and a seminar, but they also inspire and educate parents on how to lead their kids spiritually at home. Soon you will find parents welcome these events.
* Family Experiences
Several of our M2P Members host events to introduce our Family Experiences program to their church. They spend the first half of the event explaining the importance of spiritual leadership and addressing the fear and intimidation parents feel towards the process.
Then, they explain each family experience from the program and give an example of how they can practically carry out what they’ve learned. Essentially, the event provides a roadmap for parents to use as they become their kid’s spiritual leaders in the home.
If you want more information on our Family Experiences program, click HERE!
#3- THE COMMITTED PARENT
The Committed Parent is a type of parent who comes to church with their kid, is a believer, and is excited to lead them spiritually.
Ideally, this group would be the largest one in your church, but in many cases, this group is the smallest. Don’t let this discourage you, because it means you have the opportunity to grow the number of committed parents in your ministry.
The Committed Parents help supply leaders who are ready to roll up their sleeves and help make things happen.
Events that appeal to the Committed Parent are ones that create intimate spiritual experiences like these events that our M2P Members planned for Committed Parents. For example:
* Family Mission Trips/ Service Projects
These events provide an opportunity for Committed Parents to serve alongside their kid. It sets the table for parents to take the lead and create memories. All you have to do is set up the experience and let the parents take over from there.
* Small Groups for Parents
When a small group of Committed Parents meets together regularly, the fun starts. They begin to inspire and challenge each other as they lead their families.
Committed Parents love to be involved, so invite these parents to be part of your planning processes. Events are a lot more fun when you aren’t the only one planning and implementing. Let parents create volunteer teams to be responsible for set-up, registration, promotion, programming, and clean-up of events.
Another way to involve Committed Parents is by asking them to share parenting encouragement, pray over each other, or offer wisdom from their parenting journey. When a parent is willing to lead their peers, it takes some pressure off of you– especially if you are a young minister.
ONE EVENT DOESN’T FIT ALL
In conclusion, I hope this article helps in understanding the type of parent who comes to church, as well as the events to reach them. Remember that one event doesn’t fit all, so don’t expect every parent to come to every event. By offering a balanced calendar of options, you can create a unique experience for each type of parent and begin to build a thriving parent ministry.
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 connect with the parents in their church. Jeremy lives outside Nashville, Tn with his wife Elisabeth and two sons. You can reach him at www.ministrytoparents.com.