Teresa, a children’s church pastor, and Simone are friends of mine who were introduced at my church 6 years ago. Teresa and her husband Mike have two kids currently in college, and they were paired with Simone and her then fiancé Trevor through our church’s marriage mentorship program. Over the years these two women have become great friends through their mentor/mentee relationship. Now that Simone and Trevor have three children of their own in Teresa’s Sunday School program, they have grown even closer. Simone even volunteers periodically with the 4th grade Sunday school class.
“I never knew exactly what was going on with the Sunday School ministry before I started volunteering,” Simone said one day during our weekly after church family lunch at the Farmer’s Market. “I would pick up my kids after church, and ask everyone what they learned, but usually I didn’t get much information out of them other than an enthusiastic ‘It was fun, Mom!’ response. I knew they were being given good teaching because I know Teresa so well now, but even our close relationship with her as the children’s pastor didn’t give me a whole lot of insight into what was happening in the kid’s classes until I started getting more involved.”
Simone is not the only parent who has been left to play detective and wondering what is going on in children’s church on Sundays. Sometimes there can be a disconnect between what happens at children’s church or Sunday school and what happens at home.
Teaching kids about Jesus is a top priority for children’s pastors, but in order to continue the teaching at home and offer families a well-rounded teaching experience that stretches beyond Sundays, we need to think outside the box about how to get parents engaged with our curriculum. Here are four easy ways to connect parents to your Sunday school curriculum.
- Send Home Memory Verses
Cultivating and teaching kids faith begins with a commitment to learning God’s word through the memorization of Bible verses, reading Bible stories for kids at home, or even Bible journaling. Each week, send parents home with a resource that relates to the week’s lesson and that encourages kids to learn the Bible verse for the week. Offer incentives like small treasure box prizes to whoever returns the following week and can recite their memory verse.
- Include Arts and Crafts in Your Lesson Plan
Giving kids a fun arts and crafts project that is related to the lesson for the week will help them engage in a hands-on way with the curriculum. It’s also a visual supplement for parents to know what was discussed in class. Pinterest is a great resource for finding inspiration for your Sunday school crafts and other children’s ministry ideas. Feel overwhelmed by the search bar? Simply type in “Bible Crafts for Kids” to get you started!
- Bulletin Inserts
Try including inserts in the church bulletin that briefly describe what different age groups are learning. This is simple, yet effective! A quick description sentence or bullet-point list of each specific age group’s lesson plan topic is helpful in keeping parents looped in to what’s happening in their children’s classes.
Pro-tip: Add a discussion question for each age group to give parents a launchpad for recap discussions at home. When given specific questions or bullet points, parents are more likely to keep the conversation going with their kids and encourage them to ask questions about their growing faith.
- Invite Parents to Sit In On a Class
Let your parents know you have an open-door policy and welcome them to attend their child’s class any time so they can see what is happening firsthand. This invitation can be especially comforting to visiting families who are considering joining your church. This will give them a great understanding of the curriculum you are teaching. Many of our parents who have sat in for a week or two have loved it so much that they later approached the children’s church pastor about getting on the volunteer schedule!
These four simple steps can uplift the dynamic of your children’s church community and move it from simply having disconnected parents quickly dropping off their children as they head to their own class or church service, to having involved and engaged parents. Teaching kids faith is enhanced tenfold when we go beyond the few moments each Sunday we spend with the child. Getting to know the parents and building a relationship with each family is imperative to cultivating an authentic and caring larger church family.
If you’re looking for more tips on teaching kids about Jesus, children’s ministry resources, and Bible stories for kids, check out our catalogue of Sunday school resources, engaging media, and more!