When I first entered local church ministry, I heard leaders describe the importance of the first few moments of a first-time guest’s experience at a church. Because many guests decide in those few moments if they will return, it is important for a church to express hospitality to guests. We want to welcome others because Christ has welcomed us.
I have learned, as a father, about another very critical 30 seconds.
The 30 seconds when a parent picks up his/her child from the group/class at the end of the worship service are very important. I have seen some churches maximize this moment and other churches ill-prepared for the sacred opportunity these 30 seconds provide. Some churches possess a sacred “relational intentionality” for these 30 seconds. They think strategically about the discipleship of the family, and they train their leaders to be relational and hospitable. When those 30 seconds possess relational intentionality, two things happen:
Parents receive a personal connection.
There is a reason that so many parents attend Open House and Parent-Teacher Conferences. A parent does not need to be a Christian to want to know who is influencing their children and how their children are handling the environments they are in. Parents are much more likely to trust a church if their children are loved and encouraged. The 30 seconds when a father or mother picks up his/her child is a great opportunity for the parent to be encouraged and to know that their family is loved and valued.
Parents receive help in leading their families.
I have two little girls. I have learned that leading discussions with them about “what they learned at church” is much easier when an activity page that contains the Bible lesson or a parent take-home sheet is provided. The difference in the quality of the conversation has been stark based on the tools the church provides me as a father. And I am a pastor—meaning, if Eden says, “The story where Elsa prayed for God to start a fire,” I can pick up on what the lesson may have been about. But in those moments I think of the father who may not have studied the Bible much. What kind of conversation, if any, is he having with his little girl? I know that helping parents lead their families is much bigger than the 30-second pick-up time, but that time can be leveraged to help.
I encourage you to think about those 30 seconds. Are you both relational and intentional? Be relational in your shepherding of moms and dads and intentional in helping them have conversations with their kids about the Lord.
Personal story: I am super grateful for Jeffrey Reed and Jana Magruder who lead our kids ministry at LifeWay (Jeffrey as the Director and Jana as the Director of Publishing). They handle my texts with patience and joy as I constantly share thoughts about kids ministry based on my experience as a dad. They also work hard to provide tools for parents in our kids curriculum lines: Bible Studies for Life, Explore the Bible, and The Gospel Project. You can get to all three of them here.