By Wendy Berghane, Hearts Alive Curriculum Specialist
There is an old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and although I can tire of hearing that adage, I must admit there is so much truth to it. My kids are grown now, two young adults who have left the nest, and I am so very proud of who they are and the dreams they are chasing. But I can so remember the trials of parenting—those days when they pushed boundaries or made not-so-great choices. The times they exhausted me both physically and mentally. The moments where they stretched my patience and my sanity. And they were really good kids! But even the sweetest kids will challenge and exhaust their parents. And I was so grateful then, and am so grateful now, that I had a strong “village” (community) to help me as a parent and to also cheer on and love my kids.
We are not designed to live alone. God wired our hearts and minds to live with and among others, sharing life’s ups and downs and pursuing God’s heart together. We are reminded by Paul to bear one another’s burdens in his letter to the church in Galatia (Galatians 6:2). We are also reminded to encourage others, extend a helpful hand, and to be patient and love on those who are struggling (1 Thessalonians 5:14). God’s vision for the church, his community, is truly such a beautiful picture. So how does your children’s or family ministry fit into that?
Just as you plan for your lessons, activities, and community events, plan to get to know the families you serve week in and week out. Go beyond just knowing their names. Spend time asking them about their week and truly listen to their responses. Ask how you can pray for them. Consider offering events where the parents can come together for classes or a meal while their children are at youth group or other kid activities… and then make it a point to be a part of the time with parents and not just the kids. Be intentional. Cultivate an environment that focuses on supporting not just the children, but their parents and families as well. Parents and caregivers are in need of love and encouragement. They need people praying for them; they need a listening ear and a patient heart. And what an awesome opportunity to help the parents in your ministry get to know the ultimate parent, our Father, God.
As a mom looking back on some of those tougher days, it was my church community that helped me get through the parenting valleys. And it was my church community that rejoiced with me in those parenting wins. And it was my church community that helped me grow stronger in trusting the faithfulness of God, building confidence in his goodness and love for me and my children. We are called to help sow seeds in the youngest hearts, but we can also reach into the hearts of parents as well. And their hearts are just as important.
Our Hearts Alive 3-year lectionary-based children's curriculum materials provide take-home materials for parents to stay involved in their children's spiritual development, and children's ministers can build off of this in staying connected to parents. Learn more and sign up for a free sample of Hearts Alive here.
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