This post was written by the INCM Resource Team.
Part of Children’s Ministry is engaging parents in their child’s discipleship journey.
So, you’ve met a child’s parents and learned their name, but now what?
How do you go from simply saying hello to building a connection?
Remember, engaging with parents can be just as intimidating for them as it is for you.
We don’t need to overthink it or try to impress them.
Here are 14 low to no-cost easy ideas for engaging parents that you can use throughout the year and start implementing today.
Connect Outside of Church
The church building can be intimidating, and services aren’t always the best time to get to know people.
Find ways to connect with parents at other venues to break the ice.
1. Consider creating a private Facebook group.
Many parents are on Facebook and are willing to engage in conversations that build relationships.
This is also an excellent way to see what your families have going on outside of the church. i.e., birthdays, anniversaries, life changes, and interests.
2. During warmer months, host a monthly meet-up at a local playground.
This is a no-cost way to connect with families in a non-intimidating space.
You can send out a text message or event invite that is as easy as this: “Playing around at the Playground! Bring your family to Veterans Park on the second Saturday of the month at 10 am for low-key fun in the sun!”
3. Host a coffee and conversation hour at a local coffee shop.
Start by getting to know parents that show up.
As it grows, you can discuss topics related to the discipleship of their children.
4. Go to sporting events and cheer on the kids in your church.
Showing parents that you care about their child is important to building a meaningful relationship that translates into a mutual partnership in the discipleship process.
Find out when soccer, baseball, and football games are happening and add them to your weekly schedule.
This investment goes a long way to building lasting relationships with your families and the community.
Today, families are involved in many activities hosted by community organizations.
Reach out to these programs and see what their needs are.
Your presence, even one day a month, communicates your investment in the children you serve in ways that reach farther than Sunday morning.
Remember and Celebrate Milestones
A great way to engage parents is by celebrating their child.
It’s important to not only celebrate milestones in the church but also in their everyday lives.
Remembering birthdays, school achievements, and life events are essential to building stronger relationships with kids and parents.
6. Recognize kids for awesome achievements.
A simple congratulations on passing your spelling test expressed to a child in front of a parent communicates your care and investment in a child.
7. Make encouraging calls and send texts or cards to parents.
Just like the children we serve, parents can always use encouragement.
Parenting is hard work.
Discipleship is just as hard.
Sharing with a parent how you see God in them when they least expect it can give them the confidence to take the next step in engaging with you and your ministry.
8. Host a parent-focused class.
Pick a topic and a day for your class.
Consider the timing, and be sure to connect with your Lead Pastor to get their support!
Acknowledge these parents in front of the congregation following the class and share how they can be praying for and supporting parents.
Maximize Family Events
Families are more likely to attend church on Easter and Christmas, and churches do a great job of engaging parents for these holidays.
However, these holidays can be stressful and families are overcommitted.
Consider these simple ideas for connecting with parents on less hectic days throughout the year:
9. Hot Dogs and Handlebars
Host a bike riding event after Sunday service in your parking lot or at a local park.
Provide a simple lunch of hot dogs, individual bags of chips, and water bottles.
If you don’t have access to a grill, hot dogs can be cooked in a crock pot!
Simply place the hot dogs (up to fifty) in the crock pot and cook on high for three hours.
Using chalk, create a race track or two.
While the kids are off racing, parents have the opportunity to engage with you and your leaders in an environment that is relaxed and inviting.
Ask your church members to bring extra bikes and tricycles for families to use.
Add a pit stop. A place where kids can have their tires checked and their seats adjusted.
10. Mother’s Day
Host a Muffins with Mom fellowship before or after service.
This doesn’t have to be an elaborate breakfast!
Simply provide muffins and juice for families before or after your service.
Be sure to include the whole family, so children without moms do not feel left out.
11. Father’s Day
Host a “Donuts with Dad” fellowship before or after service. This can be the same as Mother’s Day but instead, provide donuts.
12. Family Field Day
Invite families for a day of outdoor fun.
Provide simple outdoor games for the kids, such as sidewalk chalk, face painting, and bubbles.
Set up lawn games for the adults, such as cornhole, ladder ball, or nine square.
Encourage families to bring snacks, lawn chairs, or blankets.
Use this time to chat with parents, have fun, and learn more about them.
Get Kids Involved
Children don’t often have the opportunity to intentionally disciple their parents or to share how they see God in their parents.
These moments are a win-win because they allow parents to see how they influence their children and how you, as a leader, support the discipleship process.
It builds confidence in the children participating.
13. Parent Appreciation Video
Record short messages on your phone and compile them on your computer to create a longer video.
Share a video in service of the kids sharing how they see God in their parents. (Don’t forget to invite parents to the service.)
14. Letters Home to Parents
Have kids write letters to their parents sharing how they appreciate the dedication their parents show to their discipleship and mail them home with an encouraging note from you.
By implementing even one of these ideas in the next month, you can start engaging parents to build meaningful connections for the long term.
Parents will feel confident that you care about them and their kids.
And your community will be more connected. It’s a win-win.