How We Brought Preteen Parents and Leaders Together

February 22, 2013 — Leave a comment

This past Sunday, we hosted a Small Group Leader & Parent Breakfast for Route 45, our church’s Preteen Ministry.  I was inspired to plan this after I saw an idea on a great website, Stuff You Can Use.  The website offers a free, editable kit that will help you plan the entire event.  The event was originally designed for Middle School Ministry, but I found it easy to design it for our needs.

I described this event to our parents as the church version of “Back to School Night”.  This type of event is usually held in August or September.  Since things were extremely busy in the fall, we scheduled it for February, the mid-point for our ministry year.

Here’s an overview of our event:

Purpose:  The primary purpose of this event was to bring parents and leaders together for a light breakfast and conversation.  Since our preteens are allowed to check themselves in and out on Sunday mornings, many of our parents and leaders had never met.  I didn’t want the school year to go by without this important face-to-face interaction.

Logistics:  We held our event on a Sunday morning during both of our morning services.  Parents were encouraged to attend during the hour that their child attends Route 45.  I recruited a few teens to help me teach the morning’s lesson and help with crowd control.  Leaders were provided with a timeline for the morning and a copy of conversation starters prior to the event so that they’d be familiar with how things would operate.

Promotion & Registration:  We began promoting the event through our weekly parent email approximately two months before the event.  It started as a “Save the Date” promotion and then moved to actual emails with more details.  We also promoted the event through announcements during our preteen Large Group time, our online church newsletter and the church bulletin.  Invitations were provided for each preteen to take home and give to their parents.  (We wanted to publicize in many different ways.)  Our invitations and other handouts were customized to be blue and white (to complement our color scheme) and include our logo.

Food:  We kept the menu pretty simple.  We served muffins, bagels and cream cheese, protein bars, fresh fruit, juice and bottled water.  We were able to keep the event to less than $60 for food and supplies.

Decor:  We set up three 9-foot tables parallel to each other with space to walk in-between.  We covered the tables with table cloths and placed an acrylic sign holder in the middle.  The sign holder held the names of each small group leader.  At each place setting, we placed a legal-sized place mat (with a section for notes); a two-sided post card – one side shared how we want to partner with parents and the other side listed our leaders and contact information; and a feedback card that parents and leaders could use in telling us if the event was beneficial, if we should offer it again and suggestions to make it better.  We also placed name tags, pens, markers and copies of Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof’s book, Parenting Beyond Your Capacity, for parents to peruse.

Here are a few pictures:

Flow for the morning:  At the beginning of the morning, I welcomed parents, shared the purpose of the gathering and brief overview for the morning as well as insight into our ministry year.  (We launched Route 45 in September, so the word for the year is “new”…new format, new curriculum, new leaders, new space, new programming, new, new, new!)  Then I turned things over to our leaders and let them facilitate the conversation.  Five minutes before the service ended, I wrapped up the time by giving a few announcements and a heartfelt “thank you” to our parents and leaders.

Overall, I am so glad that we held this event and I look forward to it again in the fall.  It warmed my heart to see parents and leaders talking about how we can best work together to help our precious children in their spiritual journey.

Leaders and volunteers:  How do you encourage a partnership between your ministry and parents?

Parents:  How can your church better partner with you as you guide your children spiritually?

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