Can We Be Partners? (Part II)
Families and Children's Ministries in Partnership
It is powerful to have a great partner. Many Children's Ministries believe this as they they seek to partner with parents. Parents are trusting the Children's Ministry at their church to help their kids grow in the relationships with Jesus. To take this understanding of partnership a little deeper we asked Rev. Matt Overman, Grand Lake UMC's Pastor of Children and Family Ministries, and Elly Thielen, busy Christ following mother of three, what does it mean for families and Children's Ministries to be partners?
By Elly Thielen
“I could have no greater joy than to HEAR that my CHILDREN are FOLLOWING the TRUTH.” - 3 John 1:4
My God has fully equipped me to parent my 3 children. He has given me a spirit aligned in HIM that tells me I am his child (2Timothy 3:15). In relation to that, I, also as a child of God, look to MY heavenly Father for guidance and discernment. I attended a church growing up which gave me a great foundation and I am currently attending and serving at a church that I believe helps to better equip me and ready my children for their faith journey as well.
At this point in my life, I am looking for specific things in a church that directly influence my children. I cannot be responsible for their inheritance – that is no one’s responsibility but their own. However, I think as parents and the church body, we are called to help plant those seeds along the way. As I began thinking of what I consider important grounds for partnering with a church, I looked back on my own experiences from childhood and as a parent now.
In part one of this conversation, you heard from Rev. Matt Overman:
“Churches are now more than ever, working to empower and equip parents to have solid faith conversations.”
I take that to heart. I want my children to be able to have open conversations about their faith. But here are the things as an active parent I think jumped from my heart the most to help foster those conversations.
- Parenting and marriage courses. I think providing a church body with information, structure, and Godly resources only better equips your leaders as a whole. I also believe this starts in families.
- Give the children opportunities to be active participants in worship and the service experience itself. Children learn best from doing. If they are never exposed to the experiences, we as adults are exposed to, how can we teach them discernment and how to listen for God appropriately? Being on prayer teams, serving your community, and participating in a worship service are easy ways they can be involved in the “big church” thus making more room for them to adequately experience God in their own way.
- CONNECTING EVENTS! I cannot ask for this enough. One of the largest, and most successful things I see and hear from our connecting events are that people are HUNGRY for Godly community. Strong relationships need to be fostered in a fun environment, not just learning. I still have a large number of friends from my youth group that I am CLOSE friends with and they still support me in Godly counsel and perspective. I want the same for my children. I want my children to build relationships within their churchbody that will help carry them through the hardest of times.
- With that comes the desire for an atmosphere where the children are able to talk about hard things and receive a Godly perspective. My children need counselors and leaders that can speak into their lives in ways I cannot.
- Communication: paper and electronic. With this new generation of parents, it is so important to check-in and communicate via social media and yet also have a paper copy available for Sunday and for take home. If you want it known – all forms of communication need to happen in order for anything you roll out to be successful. Parents are busy and some need more reminders than others.
- I need my church to help me instill a firm foundation in my child’s identity in Christ by providing scripture, bible readings/plans, and biblical truths and promises that I know my children will be able to rely on when they hit rough patches. I need Jesus to be a coping mechanism for my children, maybe even their first resort. I need it to be rooted down deep in their souls that they are children of God and that is their FIRST identity.
Supporting our families is one of the largest ways we can further God’s kingdom…and isn’t that what we are here for?
Elly is one of those people that had the privilege of growing up in the church. She has memories of walking to and from church with her brother and sisters each week. She is married to Tim and they have three young children. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education. Elly and her family are active at Vineyard Church Northwest where her and her family worship, serve, and grow. She serves in the two year olds program and helps run an event for Moms four times a year. Elly and her husband also lead Financial Peace University. Find out more about Elly on her blog The Mothership.