Children don’t come with a training manual. And many parents are at a loss as to how to deal with the challenges parenting poses, especially at times of transition (toddler to elementary, elementary to junior high, junior high to high school, high school to college age). From toddlers to teenagers, children need proper guidance and instruction as they learn to navigate the world on their own, but how is this practically accomplished? Parents can turn to your church for advice on raising a healthy family if you offer free parenting workshops and classes to the community. Try them once a week for a month—and your church budget will never know the difference.
Plan. Decide who you want to target: expecting parents, parents preparing for the toddler years, parents of elementary age, etc.
Enlist. Recruit a pastor, licensed counselor, or church member with proven experience in child-rearing to lead the class, answer questions, and promote the appropriate dialog. He or she will be responsible for developing lesson plans.
Provide Childcare. Offer free childcare and make sure parents feel confident about leaving their little ones.
Advertise. Ask church members to pass out invitations to families in their neighborhood or blanket a neighborhood or apartment complex close to your church. Advertise in the newspaper. Check with various services in your community for listings of new parents and mail invitations to specific addresses. Make a note on invitations and advertising that childcare will be provided.
Teach. Pick a short book or curriculum to go through as a group. The book should not be overtly Christian. Good examples are New Parent Power by John Rosemond and Raising Great Kids for Parents of Preschoolers by Dr. Henry Cloud.
Refresh. Serve refreshments after the class and mingle with attendees.
Share. Use the event as a springboard to tell people about an upcoming sermon series on parenting or an ongoing child-development series on a weeknight. Offer church information in a low-key manner.
Excerpt from “Keep the Change, Outreach on a Shoestring” by the editors of Outreach magazine. Copyright @2006 by Outreach magazine. Used by permission. All rights reserved.