One of the greatest ways to reach out into your community is to meet the real needs of parents and then to share with them the love of Jesus Christ. Some of that pressure comes from the outside with education, economic, and social expectations overwhelming many parents today. And some of the challenges come from inside the family itself. Conflict between family members, lack of cooperation, resistance from children, and balancing schedule, money, and relational time make leading a family quite a challenge today. Check out Bob Caldwell's recent comments at the Calvary Chapel Senior Pastor's Conference.
More and more parents want closeness with their kids. They want their families to be successful and want to enjoy family life. So when the church steps in with answer that specifically address the home, parents listen. Right around your church are hundreds of families that would like advice that would make their families more successful. And you have the answers. God has given biblical principles that add to peace, closeness, and depth for any family. In fact, when a family understands God’s principles, the family itself develops a mission instead of just reacting to the chaos of life.
A tremendous tool for outreach by a church is to offer parenting seminars as an outreach to the community. Whether it’s driven by video teaching or a live presenter isn’t as important as the integrity of the biblical principles taught in a practical way. It’s not good enough to tell kids to honor and obey their parents. Kids need to know how and parents need to know how to teach those concepts without yelling at their kids. Parents want ideas for working with their teenagers and getting their kids through the day without a crisis. They want to know how to have closeness and still get things done.
As you share real solutions for the challenges parents are facing you can talk about where they come from, the Bible. You can talk about the value of the church as a family and reach out as a caring community where parents and families can find support. Most importantly, you can share with those parents the most important parenting tip available, and that is to understand who God is as Father and how a personal relationship with Jesus Christ adopts them into God’s family.
When you use parenting seminars as an outreach to the community, you’re being like Jesus. One of the ways he shared the message of the kingdom was by helping people at their point of felt need. He often used common life experiences to create interest. He talked about everyday things like water, crops, and bread and often ministered to personal needs by healing, feeding, or just enjoying social interaction. These things became vehicles for him to share the kingdom. He talked to the woman at the well about living water. He gave over 5,000 people food to eat. He healed those who came to him. Jesus was willing to help people where they were, and used those opportunities to express God’s love and share about the kingdom.
Parenting seminars today are like the feeding of the 5,000 in Jesus time. Parents are hungry for answers for their families. They want help. Parenting is a need families are willing to admit and they’ll even come to a church to find answers. Parents love their children and want the best for them, but often they lack the knowledge, wisdom, and practical ideas needed to raise healthy, responsible children.
If you want your parenting seminar to be a successful outreach, consider these things:
1) Pray for your community. Gather a group of people together who can start praying for the specific needs of families in your area. Announce the idea to your church in the idea stage as you’re praying together.
2) Plan your content well. You don’t have to be a parenting expert to teach a parenting seminar. You could bring someone in from the outside, use video presentations, or teach material from a good parenting book. Make sure that it’s both biblical and practical.
3) Choose the timing well. Any time you choose will likely conflict with youth sports and other events. Don’t be discouraged by that. Not everyone is busy every moment of the week. Some won’t come because of other commitments, but don’t let that stop you. You might choose a Saturday morning event, or Friday evening, or three Wednesday evenings. Parents are often hesitant to commit to an eight-week study but might be interested in a two week event offered four times a year.
4) Offer a children’s program. Don’t just babysit the kids, but teach them things that complement what the parents are learning. If the kids have a positive, meaningful experience, parents are more likely to come to something else like a church service.
5) Find solutions for other excuses. You might provide a low cost meal before the event to care for busy parents. Keep the cost low or offer it for free. Encourage pre-registration to enhance commitment levels. Don’t forget the grandparents since many grandparents are heavily involved in the raising of children today.
6) Promote it well. Have a team of people promoting the seminar within your church and another team of people promoting outside the church. Inform various groups and government agencies of your event since many people need court mandated parent training and can receive adoptive and foster care credits for attending a parenting seminar. Notify every preschool, day care, and after school program in your area. Those leaders work with the kids and know that the parents would benefit from some help. Sometimes even the school system will allow the promotion of a seminar conducted at your church.
7) Involve many people from your church. This is home missions, and when you present the opportunities to people, present it as a missions event, instead of simply recruiting people for tasks to be done. You’ll want help promoting, greeting, caring for children, preparing food, and then everyone ought to be encouraged to get the word out to parents they know.
A Parenting Seminar Outreach works because it connects with families and ministers to them right at their point of need. But it doesn’t stop there. A Parenting Seminar Outreach not only strengthens families but it becomes a vehicle for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
At the National Center for Biblical Parenting we have a resource and data CD called How to Use Parenting Seminars as an Outreach to the Community.
For more ideas, resources and tools for ministering to parents you might want to visit the website of the National Center for Biblical Parenting. www.biblicalparenting.org