You have likely sent out surveys, emails, social media posts, text messages, and physical mail to the families you serve within the past few months. You might have ramped up your YouTube presence, and you might have wondered if a carrier pigeon would be effective (just kidding).
Collectively, we all know that families are feeling technologically full these days, and their capacity to engage on these platforms varies from week to week.
As shepherds, it is difficult to not be able to regularly see, hear, and interact with families we love – these interactions help us to sense and discern how best to help and encourage them. When we can’t get a read on the temperature, so to speak, what are the things we can do to discern what our families truly need right now?
Recently, INCM members had an ongoing conversation about engaging parents in this season. One of the topics we discussed were the key questions we asked that actually gave us helpful information about how our families are doing (and what we might be able to do to serve them during this time). Here are the top three questions:
1. How can I be praying for you?
A personal phone call or text message is the best route to go with this question. By asking your families how you can be praying for them, they are reminded that they are a part of a spiritual family and that you are prioritizing them in your conversations with the Lord.
Not only that, it gives you deeper insight into what is important to them right now and what they need the most. (Follow Up: If they identify a practical need in their prayer requests like provision of winter coats, groceries, or tutoring for their children, invite your church family to participate in meeting those needs.)
2. When would you feel most comfortable sending your children to children’s ministry at church again?
A survey or Google Form would be the best route to go with this question. Leaders who participated in our conversation about engaging parents let us know that the responses they received to this question surprised them, but empowered them to realistically plan out their ministry year.
It also was identified that the parents’ responses to this question helped channel the leader’s creativity and focus more clearly and productively. (Note: It’s important to ask this question every couple of months. Based on what is happening in your area, how parents feel about this one month might change a few months later.)
3. What concerns do you have for your kids right now? What are you noticing that is encouraging you?
A conversation either over the phone or in person is the best route to go with this question; however, you could also get a helpful set of responses to this in a survey. By a vast majority, parents and guardians are thinking about how their kids are doing every day. The things they are noticing or are concerned about might be an area you can support, encourage, and resource them in.
Every time we can listen, show we are listening, and serve their needs, we are building trust and partnership.
These three questions are not the only ones we should be asking in this season, but they will help you to get a greater sense of how your families are doing (and how you can come alongside them in this season).
Your investment and involvement in the lives of the families you serve MATTERS – thank you for continuing to be curious and not giving up!