Twenty years ago, I was one of those parents who sent her child to local church functions, like VBS but didn’t actually attend myself. Although I had enjoyed sporadic visits to church as a child via bus ministry, somehow, I didn’t relate that I would enjoy church as an adult. I don’t really remember what I thought about church at that time but if someone had not taken the time to invite me (repeatedly) I would never have attended. As a children’s pastor, I now get to see the flip side of that coin. I feel the frustration you feel about parents who refuse to attend church. However, there is hope! Just as some loving Christian made a difference in my life and ultimately my family’s you can too!
You can reach unchurched parents just by changing a few things and going the extra mile. With some perseverance, you will see families participate and become part of your church. Implement these keys or if you are already doing them, focus on finding new ways to reach the whole family.
1. Get involved the child’s events. Attend birthday parties, holiday parties and special days. Be friendly, focus on the child but do spend time getting to know Mom and Dad too. You’ll have to cast a vision for parents of what a children’s pastor, and ultimately the church, does. Be present in their life, celebrating during the happy times and consoling during the sad times.
2. Greet parents in the drop off zone when they arrive and when they leave. Of course, you’ll have to use wisdom here. Running up to the car everytime they pull up may not be the right course of action. For most unchurched parents, you will need a slower strategy. Begin with a wave! Then a greeting! Eventually, a conversation. Take your time and don’t get impatient with the progress.
3. Pray for unchurched parents. Don’t just think about praying, you must engage in active prayer! As they drop off their child or pick them up, pray over them silently. Ask God to intervene, to draw them close, to lead them to their destiny. Pray for peace in their home and most of all, pray for salvation. Once you establish a relationship, you can also offer to pray for the parent.
Be present. Be involved. Love parents just like you love the children. You can do it!
Read more from Mimi by visiting her blog at Tools for Kids Church.