Capturing and capitalizing moments when you have a captive, parental audience

Chad and Autumn Ward told me this @ reThink. After our meeting and question/answer time, I asked Chad about reThink’s family ministry strategy. I wondered if it was just informing parents about what their children learned during the children’s ministry hour on Sunday morning. Was that as far as it went? In a word, yes. Amidst a strategy and an ethos, no.

Yes, 252 Basics and First Look curriculum consists of parental connection resources. It has things such as “Drive Home” cards, which give parents a chance to ask more pointed and informed questions other than the basic: What did you learn? And did you have fun? Additionally, the reThink curriculum adds in podcasts, devotionals, and others (that I don’t know about), all that go hand-in-hand with the “virtue” and stories the weekend teaching/worship experience touches on for the kids.

I’ve started doing things like this with Main Street and Followers. After every ministry program time, the parents (who have email) get an email “campaign” sent out via “MailChimp” that contains the lesson, some of its content, most likely a link to the videos and printed resources, and other important connection/information. I currently have no idea how this is being used by parents, or whether it is worth the work or not. But at least there is an attempt at doing the basic: informing parents what the church is teaching their children when they are here at Hayward Wesleyan Church. There definitely needs to be more… but what?

reThink’s ethos and strategy bleeds family. What I’m discovering is ministering to families is difficult to “program.” Events like Trunk or Treat or the Easter Eggstravaganza are great, but they are a program. What Chad and Autumn shared with me was to take those moments when there is a captive audience and communicate, in 10 minutes or so, personally what I’m learning as a parents. Chad was cautious and said he doesn’t share beyond what he himself has experienced. This is the inherent obstacles I have run into, more mentally and preemptive, than anything anyone has said. I’m careful as well not to tell parents of middle school students (or even elementary students) how to parent. I HAVE NO IDEA! Well, I might have an idea, but my kids are only 3½ and 2; they are preschoolers. I feel like I have gained enough wisdom to communicate and share with first-time parents as well as preschool parents, not as an expert, but as a fellow sojourner on the path of parenting little ones. For children and youth beyond what my parenting skills have been honed for, my only area of expertise is in surviving a couple of hours of programming time where I need them not to kill each other during that time. Strategies of control and discipline are entirely different when you live with an elementary student and an early adolescent 24/7.

What I learned from that 10 minute conversation with Chad and Autumn was this: family ministry is bigger than a program, waded into with experience and report, grabbing moments when the audience is listening, and very fluid. Another thing Autumn said as I was leaving was this: parents of first-time children as well as preschoolers are very much interested in learning all they can to better their child (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually). Not until parents’ children get into elementary do they “settle” down from all the seeking for the “perfect” tools to better their children. I found that to be profound. It seems, based on that simple advice, that another extremely captive audience are parents of children in the first 4 years of procreating. It might be more likely, additionally, that that “captive” audience might include the father!