by Mark Entzminger/ March 30, 2015
Every children’s ministry leader desires to reach the hearts of kids in their ministry. But what if the best way to truly create a lasting impact, to truly make a transformational difference in their life, wasn’t through Sunday morning services and personal conversations, but by reaching their families first?
The idea of intentionally equipping and empowering parents isn’t a new idea for children’s ministry leaders, but I think it’s one we quickly forget.
Recently George Paul Wood shared some valuable thoughts about why reaching families should be a priority for kids’ ministry leaders in a Vital Magazine review he wrote for a book entitled, Families and Faith. While the book isn’t necessarily written from an evangelical Christian perspective, Wood’s insights from his own personal life were an incredible reminder of truths we should embrace as children’s ministry leaders.
Children’s Ministry Isn’t Just about Kids … It’s about Families
Here are a few ideas Wood shared that stood out:
1. “The transmission of faith and practice across generations is an important part of biblical religion.” Throughout Scripture, we see God’s people transferring the wisdom and desire to know God from one generation to the next. While it’s important for kids to develop their own personal relationship with God, we must remember that God has always used the family unit to reveal himself throughout generations.
2. “Success at transmitting religion is unequally distributed.” Our culture has experienced some incredible shifts in the past 20 to 40 years. But one thing has remained true. Parents who value, prioritize, and practice their faith are more likely to pass that faith on to their children. When parents actively practice their faith, most of their kids adopt the religious beliefs of their parents. If we want kids to experience what it’s like to genuinely trust God with every aspect of their lives, the best way to do that is to help their parents exemplify that in their own lives.
3. The intergenerational transmission of unbelief is just as strong as faith in Christ. In the same way that parents who are examples of living Spirit-filled lives are likely to pass that onto their kids, parents who aren’t serious about living a life that seeks to know God set the same example. Unfortunately, this is an ever-increasing trend in our society. According to the Pew Research Center, nonbelieving families have grown from 7 percent in 1972 to nearly 20 percent in 2012.
Creating the best environment to change the life of a child doesn’t start in the church; it starts in the home. As we seek to play our part in developing healthy disciples of Jesus, I pray that we won't neglect the opportunity we have to reach kids by intentionally reaching their families.