In today’s church, ministering to the whole family and partnering with parents are hot topics—in staff meetings, on book covers and in blog posts. Everyone seems to agree that both are crucial, even if people don’t agree on the best approach, or even on the definition of what family is or should be. As we look for realistic ways to partner with parents to nurture their children’s spiritual growth, it’s just as important to understand what this partnership is not. It’s not about making parents meet a specific, predetermined standard, as if every situation is the same. It is about helping every parent make the most of what they have.
If we want to partner with parents, we must first believe in them. We need to believe that they want to get this right and that they care about their kids even more than we do. A few years back, the Barna Group released these statistics:
85% of parents believe they have the primary responsibility for teaching their children about religious beliefs.
96% of parents believe they also have the primary responsibility for teaching values to their children.
Parents feel strongly about their influence with their children. So we in the church need to see our primary responsibility as partner—giving encouragement and providing helpful resources that seem possible from a parent’s perspective. The resources can’t add to an already hectic lifestyle.
The American Time Use Survey asked thousands of Americans to share how they spend each minute of every day, and then averaged the results. The survey found that sleeping, eating/drinking, working, and watching TV take up about two-thirds of the average day. In the “people with two or more children” demographic, three more categories took up significant portions of each day—household activities, traveling, and family care (an additional half hour for each child). Not surprisingly, some of the smallest slivers of time spent were on personal care, socializing, relaxing and thinking, and religious activities.
With so much already packed into families’ busy lives, how can we help parents use the time they are already spending with their children to create more of an everyday faith? It seems like the most likely way is to intentionally cue or prompt parents to use certain times of each day to further their children’s spiritual growth. To not just drive to practice, but talk about the Bible or listen to praise music on the way there.
To not just eat dinner, but to start a discussion about God and how He is working in their family. By cueing parents to use these key times they already have with their children, we are partnering with them and encouraging them to use their greater influence for their children’s spiritual growth.
We think parents want the best for their children. They want to raise kids who believe in God and see Him as active in their lives. We need to help CUE every parent to make the most of their everyday moments with their children, instead of setting up an unrealistic model that makes them feel hopeless. In all three of our age-specific curriculums, we have included pieces, called the Parent Cue, to help prompt parents to create and see natural opportunities to build an everyday faith at home. Use these CUE pieces to partner with your parents and watch their children soar.