Children's Ministries and Families 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 Rev. Matt Overman
Parents, we had a great time today talking about David and Goliath! Your kids asked some great questions and we had a lot of fun talking about this awesome story. Your child has a paper with some questions that you can ask and continue the discussion this week. We love partnering with you and can’t wait to see your kids next week!
Classes dismiss, and I look in the trash can in the classroom and the one by the church door and they are both full of those handouts for parents to use to talk about the lesson throughout the week. The frustration sets in!
The church is here to partner with parents, not to do the job for them. Throughout Scripture, parents age given instructions about teaching their children about faith (Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4, Deuteronomy 11:19, Psalm 78:4, and many more!) There is a major shift in the church to help equip parents to lead faith discussion and help them to be the champions in their own child’s life. Churches are now more than ever, working to empower and equip parents to have solid faith conversations. We saw that what we were doing was not working, and now we are working to bring faith conversations back into the home. The average family comes to church 1 or maybe 2 times per month! We get it, you are busy, tournaments happen on Sunday mornings, practices are on Wednesday nights, you only have the kids every other weekend, we get it. So we want to help you.
So what is the big secret? How do I have a real faith conversation with my child when I don’t really even know what they are talking about? I didn’t grow up in the church! I don’t remember the stories that my children are talking about! How can I talk to them about stuff that I don’t even understand? Well I would argue that the first step is to try something. There are no magic wands for leading these conversations. I can give you awesome resources, ideas, and suggestions, but you have to just try something. Try anything! A quick google search will give you tons of free and simple ideas for having faith conversations with your kids.
The second thing I would suggest when talking with your kids about God is to make it fun! Do a service project together, make a craft, do a science experiment, cook dinner. There are many different ways to engage your kids and talk about your faith. You do not need a Bible degree, 25 hours of training, or a special certification. Your kids desperately want to know what you believe and what God means in your life. Don’t be afraid to not have all the answers! Instead look them up together. Be real with your kids and admit when you don’t fully understand something about God. The last thing we need is one more thing added to our calendars. So make faith conversations a part of the ride to and from school, around the dinner table, at the practice field, at the dance studio, wherever you already are. There are so many awesome lessons we can have with our kids just in everyday life. If you need ideas then go to your children’s ministry leader or pastor. I would bet most of them would be extremely excited to give you resources and ideas to talk with your kids about faith.
I can only speak for me, but the biggest win in ministry for me is having a parent come up and ask how they can help their child know who God is. That is the point of Deuteronomy 6: 6-9.
Rev. Matt Overman
Matt grew up at Grand Lake church and is blessed to continue to serve as the children and family pastor. He graduated from Wright State with a Bachelors in Educations and a Masters of Divinity from United Theological Seminary. Matt was ordained as a Deacon in the United Methodist Church in June 2017. He is married to his best friend and wife, Beth, and they have three sons, Patrick, Charlie, and Mark. His hobbies include working around the house, playing games and watching TV.