We discuss and blog and chat about kid-friendly ministries and we further discuss and blog and chat about reaching parents.
The conclusion? We need kid and parent-friendly churches.
But what does that look like?
- A friendly person stationed at the door. Ask the friendliest person in your ministry to stand at the door as parents and children arrive. You need someone who can comfortably introduce himself and start a conversation with the parent and child. The friendly-door person can also walk the parents and kids to the appropriate classroom and answer any questions along the way. (Which means you might need two friendly people at the door, so the first one doesn’t need to cut a conversation short to get back to the door.)
- Brochure/webpage about your church children’s ministries. Let your visitors know that your church loves kids. List everything for kids … and your philosophy of children’s ministry. Don’t forget the Mom’s Bible Study with kids’ classes or the children’s choir or the mid-summer carnival.
- Bathrooms that are clean! Bathrooms are often the first room a parent sees when visiting a new church. Parents take their children “one last time” before dropping them off at class. Unfortunately we’ve all seen some skuzzy bathrooms. Make clean bathrooms a priority.
- Activities at the beginning of your class time. Get those kids involved immediately so parents see a controlled, kid-friendly atmosphere. Wait! How about a parent activity? Why not have a pre-club parent throw-the-beanbag-in-the-bucket tournament? A good way to get to know parents in an informal atmosphere.
- Welcoming classrooms. Even though your church might not have a lot of money in the budget, you can play peppy music (Awana has a lot of great kids’ music available), decorate the walls with kids’ drawings or a mural and have the lights on!
- Leaders/teachers who arrive early. Be firm about teachers/leaders getting there 15 minutes early. (Yes, sometimes people have to get there late because of job responsibilities, but make sure you have at least a few leaders present.) Nothing says, “we aren’t organized” like parents taking their kids to a dark, empty classroom with no adults in sight.
- Security measures in place. Let parents know that you won’t allow a child to go with someone not on the child’s “approved” list and then stick by that standard. Let parents know someone on the child’s list must come to the door to pick up their child – you will not allow young children to go to the parking lot themselves. Let parents know that you don’t allow kids to wander around the church.
- First aid kits present (and know what “legal” medical aid you can give. For instance, I directed a state-licensed preschool and we could wash and bandage a child’s cut, but we were not allowed to apply any medication – that was the law.)
- Communication between you and the parent. Does your church have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a children’s ministry blog? Let your parents know what’s happening, what the kids are learning, what questions they can ask their child about the lesson.
- Opportunities given to help (But don’t allow parents to work with any kids, but their own unless they have had a background check and have been through required training.)
- Invitation to sit through a club meeting. Let the parents know that you are there to support them as they spiritually nurture their children.