Last week, we talked about moving beyond a vending machine mentality and into a meal kit mentality when it comes to our strategy for effectively partnering with parents (a month-long conversation you can join here). I ran across a Facebook post from Kelly Turner, a kidmin leader in Springfield, IL, about the success she’s found with her parent resource shelves, and I knew we had to talk more!

Kelly graciously shared ideas and pictures and even took the time to answer a few questions about her parent resource shelves. I love that they move beyond just a stagnant spot for resources to a deeper strategy for equipping parents.

You might be asking: “But aren’t parent resource shelves just like a vending machine? Isn’t that what we’re trying to move beyond?”

Yes! We are trying to move beyond just resourcing parents, but an easy first step in this strategy shift is to start with what you’re already doing and evaluate it. Rather than eliminating or adding something, start with what you’ve already got.

So if you have parent resource shelves or a parent resource center/spot/location in your ministry space, these tips can help you evaluate their effectiveness and hopefully spark some ideas for shifting to a meal kit mindset.

Here’s what sets Kelly’s shelves apart and takes them into meal kit mindset territory:

  • The resources require varying levels of commitment – there’s something for everyone.
  • The resources are updated every 6-8 weeks so it’s not always the same thing.
  • The resources are specific and relevant to a season/rhythm of family life.
  • There’s follow-up and feedback involved in the process.

Keep reading to hear more about Kelly’s strategy with her parent resource shelves, and thanks Kelly for allowing me to share!

Tell us about the parent resource shelves you’ve created for your ministry, how you set them up, and why you set them up this way.

At the KidzMatter Conference in 2022, my biggest take-away was equipping our parents to teach their children. Several of the break-out sessions I attended touched on that in at least some way, so I came home ready to implement. I actually texted our pastor about it on the ride home, and by that weekend we had a space set aside for it and our first bit of resources out! 

We’ve been intentional in providing activities and devotions to do at home, issuing scripture reading and prayer challenges, etc. Our resource location has gone through several iterations as we’ve moved rooms around, etc. It’s currently just a bookcase by the check in desk. This works well for us.

It has taken a bit of experimentation to find what works for our families. If I see something I think would make a good take-home, we try it!

What has been the response from parents? Have they given any feedback?

The parents have given overwhelmingly positive feedback! They desire to disciple their kids, but often feel overwhelmed by options or don’t know where to start – so they just don’t start anywhere. They have appreciated having devotions related to seasons and holidays ready-to-go that they can do at home.

Have you had a “most popular” resource you’ve shared through the shelves? 

Yes! Our summer fun devotions (free example of them here!) were by far the most popular – we ended up having to refill the devotions several times before fall. We found that our families were enjoying them so much that they were taking them to share with neighbors and friends (yay!).

Generally-speaking, devotions with some kind of hands-on activity where we either provide the needed item or it is something most people have at home already are most popular. For the summer fun devotions, each bag had a summer toy and a devotion to go along with it. So, a bottle of bubbles and a devotion they could use the bubbles to help teach. This type of resource is usually completely taken from the shelves within a week or two once they are put out! 

Have you had any resources or ideas that didn’t work the way you’d hoped? 

Of course! Our families have not really gotten into longer-term devotion resources. A devotion series meant to last a month seems overwhelming to them. Those often don’t get taken home at all, or I hear that the families abandon them after a few days. But, we have a few families who enjoy the challenge, so we still put them out occasionally, but just a couple copies.

How long does it take you to prep a shelf for the month?

Probably around 10 hours. That would include finding or writing devotions, shopping, and putting everything together. 

Can you share some ideas of what you add to the shelves for each month throughout the year? 

We tend to update the shelves every 6-8 weeks with seasonal or holiday items. We will do a full removal of the old things, set out several new things, then continue adding new things for a few weeks. This keeps the interest high and families looking at it frequently. 

  • Year-round: parenting books, devotion books, storybooks, and general theology hands-on devotions 
  • January/February: These are more general devotions to cover basic theology, wintry-themed devotions, and love-based devotions as Valentine’s Day approaches
  • March/April: Spring and Easter items
  • May-July: Summer! Things like sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and glowsticks. Find 8 summer toy family devotions here
  • August: Back-to-school, and the start of fall
  • September-October: Fall and Halloween. I know some congregations do not acknowledge Halloween, but it has been a good opportunity for us to teach on not being afraid, trusting in God alone, and using candies to help teach truths! 
  • November: Thanksgiving and some Advent resources
  • December: Christmas and general wintery-themed devotions. Think hot chocolate, candy canes, and lights. Some of the wintry-themed ones will stay available through January.

Share a “win” or a story from a family who used the resources:

One of the grandmothers in our congregation uses the hands-on devotions when her young grandkids are over. She always grabs some of our new ones, and frequently shares pictures with me of them doing them! 

One of our moms said they like to look at what is available and they let the kids choose the ones they want to take home to do. She said they’re so excited to do them, they sometimes do the devotion on the way home from church! She said that she likes that it gets them talking about scripture together, and the kids enjoy the fun activities!

Most importantly – we have heard from families that the resources have helped them have regular Bible time at home. It makes them feel empowered to teach their kids- they realize it is not as scary as they thought!

Anything else you want to share? Logistical/practical tips you’ve learned?

  • I love to walk around Hobby Lobby or Dollar Tree when they start putting seasonal items out. They have crafts and decorative items that will spark a devotion idea for me! 
  • I have a passion for writing lessons and devotions, so that is frequently what I do. If that is not your thing, find resources you can purchase! There are so many available online. Even just googling something like “valentine’s object lesson church” will provide you with some ideas to start with!
  • If there is an object lesson from our curriculum I think would translate well to home use, I will put together a devotion using the idea.
  • I watch online book stores for clearance sales. I have gotten some very good devotion and Christian parenting books for less than a dollar in some cases! I just do some research on the author so I know I am providing solid teaching to our families.
  • Remember that your families may respond to resources differently than you think they will and it’ll take you a while to find your groove. Engage a few of your families for feedback, and encourage them to be honest about it. You don’t want to throw effort towards something that isn’t working for your families- that is frustrating for everyone involved.

Find 8 summer toy family devotions Kelly is sharing this summer in her parent resource shelves here.


  1. […] Parent Resources Shelves: A Digital Interview with a Local KidMin Leader […]

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