3 Ways To Reach New Parents


To reach the next generation with the gospel, we have to reach parents. And one of the best ways to reach parents is to value the things they value. The apostle Paul said it this way,

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them (I Corinthians 9:19).

To win people to Christ, we must be willing to serve them and to meet their needs. While our acts do not add anything to the gospel, they make gospel proclamation clear. In other words, the message exists but it needs a strong signal to connect with people. If we want to have a strong signal, we must seek to serve others. We must seek to serve young families. In my experience, young families are looking for three things after determining a church’s love for the gospel: cleanliness, security, and relationship. To reach young families we must have clean facilities, promote safety and value relationships.

1. New parents love the smell of Lysol. It proclaims to the world that your church takes germs seriously. New parents also love seeing fresh paint, clean new toys, and fresh books. When I first came on staff at FBCE, my wife and I visited all the nursery rooms. The new born baby room had an external broken pipes in the ceiling and holes in the wall. We both looked at each other. As our eyes met they quietly screamed, “There is no way, we are leaving a baby in here.” Thankfully FBCE understood this principle. The church now has a brand new facility with a great baby room. But the point still remains. If new parents think your facility is dirty or see that every book in your nursery room is ripped in half, they probably will not come back. We will lose opportunities to share the gospel if we have dirty facilities. Value cleanliness.

2. Most every parents comes to our church doubting our ability to care for their child. This lack of trust is not our fault nor indicative of poor parenting. It is human nature. Parents love their kids and rightfully slow to hand over some of that responsibility to the church. We must win the parents’ trust. We must prove to them that we our facilities and programs take their children’s safety seriously. We must show them that we love their kids from beginning to end. Towards that end, we must run background checks and vet our volunteers. We must have check-in and out procedures that keep track of the kids at all times. We must keep proper ratio’s in place at all times. We must make sure 4th graders are not playing dodge ball in the room while babies crawl on the floor. If parents do not think our church is safe, they will not return. Value safety.

3. Young parents value relationships. They want to feel connected. They want to be part of the church. If we want new families to come to our church, we must be ready for them. We need to great them with a smile, help them get acclimated to our church, and walk them to their kids’ rooms. And while we teach and watch their kids, we need to take the time to get to know the kids, asking questions about their hobbies, school, and family. We also need to respect the parents’ wishes if possible. If they want you to get them after little Johnny has cried for 10 seconds, then we go ahead and page them. When the parents come back, we need to tell the parents how much we enjoyed meeting their child mentioning specific details about the child’s day and/or lesson. And it would not hurt for us to ask them to lunch! Value relationships.

All three of these things are ongoing. We are always cleaning, improving safety and building relationships. You never “arrive” in kids’ ministry. But if we spend time, money, and energy cleaning, protecting, and building relationships, we will have more and more chances to share Christ. Are you ready for new families?

Don’t Sink Your Kids’ Ministry; Plan!

kids planning blogWithout Planning, our kids’ ministry will drift about aimlessly until it runs aground. When parents and various organizations pitch things to us, we will not know which way to steer. Do we go to this camp? Should we have a lock-in? What about the summer? If we have no strategy, we will answer these questions differently every year. Or perhaps an even worse thing will happen.  We will start digging a ministry rut, refusing to change anything. “After all we did it that way last year,” we say.

If we continually flip flop on what we do, we will exasperate the moms and dads in our ministry, losing the very trust we need to cultivate. But if we keep doing the same-old, same-old, we will wake up one day and discover that we our exciting new ministry is showing 20 year-old VHS tapes. Neither is good. And both extremes can easily be avoided with some planning.

First Comes Vision

But to plan well, we must have vision. We must have strategic goals that we are trying to reach. At FBCE my goal is to reach kids with the gospel, to equip parents, and to foster godly relationships through discipleship. Every curriculum I pick, every outing our kids go on, and every camp we attend is chosen because of it helps FBCE reach one of these goals.

For example when I came to FBCE, our kids attended a Winshape Day Camp. The 15 kids who attended loved camp. The last year we went to Winshape, only 3 kids hopped on the church bus. At FBCE, we average around 100 kids in attendance every Sunday morning and Wednesday night. Only three were going to camp. We were not reaching kids with the gospel.  Consequently, I decided that FBCE’s kids’ ministry would stop attending Winshape. In it’s place, we decided to start our own day camp, Connect Camp. Through Connect Camp, we have reached an average of almost 40 kids each year. We have gone from 4 to 40. Ultimately what lead me to make the decision to try something new was my strategic goals. Since Winshape was not helping us accomplish any of our mission,  we let it go. I am not against Winshape. I think it’s amazing. But the camp was not working for the families of FBCE because of logistical reasons. A change had to be made.

Before we can thoughtfully set our calendars, we must have strategic ministry goals that will help us chart our course. And then we must plan.

Then Comes Planning

Yes, it is good to always be flexible. It is good and helpfully to be able to cancel, reschedule, and create new events as needed. We are not God. And all who depend on him, must be humble and must be open to God reworking their plans. As proverbs 19:6 says,

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

If our plans become so protected that we sin to get them and/or sin to ensure they go happen, we do not have a calendar. We have an idol, and we need to repent of it.

But trusting God does not relief us from the responsibility to plan. Often the only way to implement our strategic goals is to plan months (if not years) in advance. It takes time to mobilize volunteers, to collect resources, and prepare teams. It takes more than one event to reach kids with the gospel, to equip parents, and to foster Christians relationships. It takes years. And we need to plan accordingly. We need to wrestle through our calendars and decided which curriculums, events, and groups will help us advance the gospel in our community.

Today, I am doing many things that I first thought of back in August of 2012 when I first arrived. The ideas have morphed and changed to meet the needs of FBCE. But they would not have happened without intentionally planning and prayer. We as the leaders need to be making hard decisions well in advance so that we can guide our people and our kids. In short, the only way to prevent ministry drift and stagnation is to plan. Whose ready?

5 Marks Of A Great Friend

5-signs-of-a-good-friendLast week, we looked at what the Bible says about fools. Specifically, we examined 7 foolish character traits the define someone as a bad friend. (Click here to read that post) But the question remains, “What kind of friend should our kids have? What does a good friend look like?” Let’s take a look at how the Bible describes the wise (i.e. those gals and guys that will prove to be faithful friends). A great friend will:

1.    Love God

If a person is truly wise, they will love God, the source of all wisdom. As Proverbs 2:6 says,

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

A good friend must cherish the things of God. They must love God’s word, his church, and his people. A good friend will always seek to obey God. As Proverbs 1:7 famously says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

2.     Respect Their Parents

A wise child will value their parents’ advice and counsel (Prov. 4:1,5).  They listen when their parents offer them practical, biblical wisdom about dating, school, work, money, and friends. And because they listen to their parents, wise kids avoid many disastrous decisions. They bring both their mother and their father great joy. As Proverbs 23:24 says,

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.

Wise kids value their parents.

3.     Speak Well

A wise child does not speak all the time (Prov. 29:9). Their Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat can lay dormant for a few hours. They don’t feel the need to comment on everything thing their friends, parents, and teachers say. And when they do speak, they add to the conversation. Their words are kind, loving, and thoughtful. As a result, they often win people over to their point-of-view (Prov. 16:23).

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out. – Proverbs 15:2)

4.    Be Humble

How do you know if a child is humble? Try correcting them. Try to help them with the swing, complete their homework, or to stop sinning. A humble, wise kid will listen to you and value your input (Prov. 9:9). They will say, “Show me more!” The fool will say “No thanks; I got this old man” (Prov. 12:15). If anything the fool will try to teach you how to coach, teach, or discipline better. As the Scriptures say,

Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. – Proverbs 12:2.

Let’s encourage our kids to befriend people who can accept criticism.

5.    Promote Peace

A wise, good friend makes friends where ever she goes. Instead of stirring up arguments and drama, a wise friend brings peace and harmony (Prov. 12:18; 29:8).  In addition to bringing peace with their lips, wise friends keep their friends out of trouble. They encourage their friends to complete their homework, to tell the truth, and to honor their parents (Prov. 13:14). As Proverbs 24:3 says,

By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established;

Let’s encourage our kids to value wise and understanding friends.
As the first point makes clear, to be a good friend one must be a believer. This is not to say that friendships with unbelievers are sinful, misguided, or meaningless. But the best and most meaningful friendships occur within the body of Christ. No one can be a good, wise friend apart from Christ since all wisdom comes from him.  Are we ready to help our kids find good friends?