I’ve chronicled our adventures at Trinity Church of getting families more involved in the spiritual experience we offer their children during our weekend environments (Check out our Going Orange Baby Steps #1 and Baby Steps #2.)
We’ve worked hard to get parents involved in our traditional drop-off events, and have made changes to our child baptism procedures, and we’ve totally revamped our Child Dedication process in the past few months. One of the other things we’ve wanted to do is offer parents a glimpse of what we do with their children each and every Sunday morning at Trinity Kidsplace.
So what were the goals?
Goal #1: To see parents participate in a Trinity Kidsplace experience with their child.
Goal #2: Parents would be exposed to all that happens in Kidsplace with their Elementary age children.
What were the challenges we were up against as a team to get parents involved?
1. It was not possible to do a Children’s Ministry led service for adults in the main sanctuary. We have 4 services each weekend, and to plan for all 4 services would be quite the load. I’m also not sure it would be as effective at our church as it might be at other churches. In the future this might be an option, but I don’t see it fitting the overall vision of our church.
2. We have tons of parents involved in Adult Education opportunities on Sunday Mornings. This means we need to offer something that floats between multiple services so everyone can have a chance to attend Kidsplace with their child.
3. We operate in limited physical space. We do children’s ministry in a room that barely holds the children. Adding a 100 parents would be a logistical nightmare!
4. We wanted to resist the temptation to pull a bait and switch on our parents. You know the kind. Where you ramp everything up and bring in the chainsaw juggling clowns for the parents, then back to the puppets talking to the ceiling when the parents leave. We want to show what we really do for kids. Nothing more, nothing less.
Here is what we did:
1. We planned five “Parent Sunday” events over the next 3 months. There are five, because our Elementary ministry currently ministers to 1st-5th graders.
2. We also spread them out so we have a week gap between each of our “Parent Sunday” events. This was done to prevent volunteer burnout, and to allow me time to promote and get the word out. The way it’s setup, we’ll get 1st through 4th grades in before Thanksgiving, and we’ll get 5th grade parents down in January 2010.
3. We promoted the event only to the parents that were invited on that particular week. No mass mailings, no church bulletin insert, etc… We only want parents to hear about it when it pertains to them. How did we do it? We created mailed personal invites for the parents, handed out left-over invites to parents the Sunday before in the specific small group that applied to them. I also posted on our parents blog, and on the Facebook Kidsplace Fan page what was coming up. I used the parents blog as a place to answer those commonly asked questions.
4. We did what we do. We sang the songs we always sing, and did our large group and small group programming like we always do, and the only added element was the parents being in the room. We even made very little mention from the large group stage that we had parents in the room.
5. We gave a gift to each parent in attendance when they checked-in at the parent table. The gift included some the lesson take-home page that pertained to what they experienced, included the “How to talk to your child about Salvation and Baptism” materials, and a small book about connecting with your kids. It was an easy, easy, easy gift. Nothing too huge.
6. We had some family-friendly gift cards in the small group time with kids and their parents. I left it up to the small group leaders to determine how they were given away, but I heard they worked them into some review-type games. This week it was some Krispy Kreme gift cards. I tried to make it something family friendly.
So how did it go?
It actually went remarkably well. I’d say about 1/3 of the kids in the 1st grade, had parents in attendance. Which was pretty great! The parents loved it, and I had many comments that they were so glad to be a part of what happened. Even a few comments like, “I had no idea you guys did this with the kids!” We really exposed ourselves to people in our church that had no idea what we did with their kids every Sunday morning. These are good things, trust me.
In the coming weeks we’ll see the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, & 5th grade parents come down to experience Kidsplace and it’s my prayer that we can build some momentum for more family involvement going into 2010 and beyond.
Here are the invites we sent to parents. It was postcard sized, and printed front and back. We put them in some nice invitation quality envelopes, and put our gears logo all over the envelope.
Sam Luce has done some great things at his church to reach out to parents and the like; but as is the case with most things…it didn’t fit our model. I encourage you to flood his inbox with questions about their Parent Sundays (or whatever they officially call them.) He’s the pro at these kinds of things!