A strong partnership between the home and the church is essential in helping develop young disciples. Children’s Ministry in general, and especially Sunday School, is one format of discipleship that offers a unique opportunity to bring the joy of the gospel to the younger generation. A strong partnership of parents (and grandparents) and Sunday School staff is essential to the spiritual growth of our children.
If you’re a parent, here are a few practical ways for you to take advantage of the partnership with the church in helping your child grow spiritually:
- Before coming to Sunday School, pray together for their time in Sunday School. Taking time to pray builds a bond between your child, their teachers, and other children in their classroom. It helps prepare their heart to receive biblical instruction. And these prayers will also help strengthen their faith in God as they see God answer their prayers.
- Pray for the Children’s Ministry, and specifically your child’s Sunday School teachers. Perhaps you could even ask the teacher if there are specific ways you can pray for him/her and for the class. Make this a part of your family prayer time or your own personal prayer time. Pray for the teachers as they prepare during the week and for their teaching on Sunday morning. Pray that the children’s hearts will be soft, will respond at a young age to the gospel, and will grow and wisdom and Christ-likeness.
- Get to know your child’s teachers and help them get to know your child. Share with them about your child (e.g. their spiritual condition, their struggles, what helps them focus, any disabilities, medication, allergies). It can also be helpful to share any pertinent family information such as a death in the family, chronic illnesses, or other difficult trials. These bits of information will help the teachers not only minister most effectively to your child, but will also help them know how to pray for your child.
- Bring your child to class on time. Sunday School starts at the same time as the worship service. Arriving late means everyone loses out on an important part of the morning and to some extent disrupts others. Before dropping off your child be sure to take them to the restroom.
- During the week review the GIFT Workbook (Growing in Faith Together workbook that your child brought home in September). These pages (which correspond with the lesson taught the previous Sunday) will help you partner with the church in teaching your child sound doctrine and Scripture. Going over these pages together will help your child put into practice the truths they learned in Sunday School.
- During the week learn and review the church-wide Scripture Memory Verse with your child. Memorizing can be done through repetition, games, competition, or activities. Make sure to include ample discussion and application regarding the verse.
- Offer to help. Ask the Children’s Ministry Director if there are ways you can help the Children’s Ministry. This might include teaching or helping in a classroom, providing snacks, decorating the rooms, preparing materials, or planning events. Children love to see parents involved in their activities.
- Let your child’s Sunday School teacher know you’re grateful for their ministry and sacrifice. Teachers spend hours of their own time preparing the curriculum and sacrifice their own time in the worship service to teach each month. Encourage your child to also express their gratitude to their teachers.
- Reinforce with your child what kind of behavior will honor God and their teachers. Teaching a room full of children can be a challenge on many levels. Dealing with disrespectful or uncooperative children disrupts the entire class. Talk to your child about their behavior and participation in the Sunday School classroom. For young children it will be helpful to remind them of this each week before they go to class. If the teacher shares a concern about your child’s behavior, take time to understand the situation, talk with your child in a loving, but firm way, and let the teacher know you want to help make their job easier. It might be helpful to talk to your child along with the teacher so that the child cannot make excuses and knows that both sets of adults are on the same page.
- Make Sunday worship and Sunday School a priority. Many things today compete for our time and attention. Missing church not only means missing important teaching, worship and fellowship, it also conveys to children what is or isn’t most important in life. Keep the Lord’s Day the Lord’s Day!
God has given us a wonderful plan for partnership between parents and the church by which we can implant the Word of God into children’s heart. What a unique blessing for children to grow up with their parents and their church working together to show them Jesus!
[Today’s guest post is written by Bobette Hatteberg, Children’s Ministry Director at Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.]