I’ve seen a lot of posts in children’s ministry groups lately about parent resource centers and how to provide a place for parents to pick up devotionals, books, ideas, and more. Parent Resource Centers (or corners or stations or walls or whatever you want to call it) are a great idea and an excellent way to partner with parents and equip them to be the primary disciplers of their kids. But if you stock these hubs with the wrong kind of resources, they can sit dormant and go unused. If you want to make your families ignore your parent resources, do these 5 things…
- Make resources (and finding them) complicated. Our brains are hard-wired to choose the path of least resistance, and busy parents are no different. If your at-home devotionals and resources are too complicated and difficult to understand or pull off, parents may pick up a copy the first time, but they won’t be coming back for more. Instead, provide resources that are simple and provide families an easy way to incorporate discipleship into their daily routines. Remember, simple doesn’t have to mean shallow. And make sure to organize your resources in a way that allows parents to find what they’re looking for quickly. If they have to search too long to find something, they may give up easily.
- Make parents feel overwhelmed. When I first started in children’s ministry, I shared EVERY parent resource I found out about, thinking the parents in my ministry would eat it up! Eventually, I realized I was giving them so many resources that they felt overwhelmed rather than encouraged. Sometimes they just needed me to say, “Hey, you’re doing a great job, and I’m praying for you. Keep it up!” instead of handing them another Bible activity or take-home sheet to do at home. Include resources (or even just a poster in your parent resource area) that reminds parents they’ve got this and they’re not alone. Be a parent cheerleader, not a coach.
- Never update the resources. It’s important to have some resources that stay evergreen, meaning they are applicable in any season of life, but it’s also important to change out some of your parent resources, at least once a semester or once a quarter. Each season could include new information relevant to that season or addressing a specific tough topic with kids. (Psst- Our Talking About Things That Matter Bundle gives you 4 resources for parents to help them talk about difficult subjects with their kids, so you could change out the resource each semester!) Changing things up, even just a little, gives you a reason to talk about the parent resource center with families and keeps it fresh so they come back for more.
- Think exclusively. Every family is different. From their schedules to their learning styles to even their family make-up, families come in all shapes and sizes. Are the resources you’re providing only for a certain type of family? While we may not be able to cater our ministries and resources perfectly to every family, we should still be mindful of offering resources that address a variety of family situations and life circumstances. I had a parent offer feedback once where she expressed frustration at how most of our at-home discipleship resources seemed to assume that one parent worked and the other could stay home with the kids. The activities were too time-consuming for their family to complete after everyone got home from work and school. Using a resource like the Family Survey and Family Facts Sheet in this Family Ministry Toolbox can help you gather information about your families and understand what resources would serve them best.
- Don’t tell parents it’s there. You could create the most amazing parent resource center that ever existed in the children’s ministry world, but if your families think it’s just a cool display, you’re missing the whole point! Make sure to communicate (often), about the parent resource center and direct parents to it. Tell them the kind of resources they can find there and encourage them to take something home. You could even put up balloons or fun decorations around the parent resource center whenever you add new resources, just to draw parents’ attention! And if you’re providing a resource for the whole family to do together (like one of these family faith kits), then be sure to tell kids it’s there too! If kids know about the exciting new resource, they’ll beg their parents to pick up a copy.
Hopefully these 5 statements give you an idea of what NOT to do, so you can strategically create a parent resource center that families with love. If you want some ideas for specific resources to include in your parent resource center, explore all of our Family Ministry: Parent Resources here.