We sat on blankets in the front yard as the sun was setting. All 16 of us (ranging in age from 2 years old to late 50’s) relished the perfect autumn evening as we gathered in a new way in our family small group.
Typically, the parents would do a lesson while the kids ran off to play. But tonight, the plan was different. We wanted the kids to learn with the adults and hear what each other had to say about the Bible.
What started with wrangling toddlers and shushing the chatter of elementary-aged kiddos eventually gave way to kids and parents having an honest conversation about reading the Bible and why it matters when we’re followers of Jesus.
This simple conversation, along with a team race to unscramble a verse and a coloring activity, resulted in fruit I’m not sure anyone was anticipating.
Kids were keenly aware of the importance of Scripture. Adults were teary-eyed as they shared how God’s word was with them even when they forgot to read it for a season.
Together, all ages prayed for the needs of the group specifically by name. It was simple, clear, and easy to access for everyone – even the quiet teenager.
In today’s world of family ministry, it can seem like a daunting task to help families talk about the essentials of the Bible and living the Christian life; yet, in my years as a Children’s Minister and a high-level volunteer, I have realized something important:
The gospel is simple, and people who love Jesus want to talk about it…they just might need a little help getting started.
So, how do we equip families to get the conversation going, to share in prayer, to engage the reading of the Word, and to prioritize healthy fellowship with other believers?
Here are 3 tips to help improve your family discipleship.
1. Break Some Bread
As children’s pastors, your most valuable asset is the relationships you have with the families of your church.
If you don’t know where families live, what they’re up to on Tuesday evenings, or haven’t had a meeting outside the church in a while, you’re going to miss out on life-on-life discipleship.
One way to change this is to invite a family to your home for a picnic or dinner and learn more about them. If you don’t feel comfortable hosting in your home, you can meet at a restaurant, or ask if you can bring a meal to eat with them at their home.
When you’re there, ask them questions like: What fills your evenings? When do you have the most free time? How do you incorporate reading the Bible in your busy lives? When is prayer most approachable for your family? What things are you learning about God as a family right now?
By asking some basic questions about faith, you can gauge what they might want or need from the family ministry you provide.
2. Get Curious
Do you know what your families need in this season? Are they tired of screens, activities on the calendar, or coming up with new things to do? Or are they excited for everything and wanting more?
Putting out more doesn’t mean it’s working, better, or successful if your families don’t express an interest in it. You’re just taking on more work for yourself.
Here’s what to do: Ask 5 key parents what they are finding helpful for their family’s discipleship in this season. You can send out a survey, but you’ll get the best answers from moms and dads that you talk with in-person in the foyer on Sunday or call on the phone.
Choose people who are already committed to the church and that you find it easy to talk with. You will get the best feedback from people who are already deeply involved and care about the growth of the ministry.
3. Keep It Simple
You don’t need to make big family curriculum kits, or even come up with a weekly activity to get them talking about Jesus. You can send an email once a month with an easy Bible activity they can do as a family with discussion questions.
Suggest a new kid’s Bible that they can read with their children before going to bed. You can come up with short prayers they can memorize as a family around the dinner table. You can invite families to a once-a-month potluck after Sunday church services to eat and have easy discussion topics around a table with each other.
It doesn’t need to be high stress or a big event. You don’t need to take on all of these activities at once. Do what works for your families and what they say they need.
God will always show you how to grow your family discipleship skills, and by applying these 3 tips, you’ll be well on your way to refining the ministry you’re already doing. So, break some bread, get curious, and keep it simple.