Church of the Saviour, Wayne, Pa.
In Wayne, Pa., parents used to head to the local coffee shop to pass time while their children attended a weekly club or activity. But now, they’re using that time to brush up on their parenting skills with the help of Church of the Saviour. Using a Christian-based program, the 2,200-member church hosts regular seminars for moms and dads.
“We desired to reach parents evangelistically,” says Ellie Greenhalgh, the church’s director of children’s ministries, “and to invest in them with good, biblical parenting skills that can become part of their everyday lives.”
How to Do It:
— Pick an appropriate time. Review your church’s schedule and the community’s. When are kids busy and parents waiting? Consider a time that enables both moms and dads to come. “We realized that parents [churched and unchurched] were dropping their kids off at AWANA on Tuesday nights and then looking for something to do,” says Greenhalgh. “So, that’s when we offered our first course.”
— Get the word out. Post fliers around the community in grocery stores, post offices, preschools, coffee shops and other churches. Take advantage of the fact that parents everywhere, religious or not, want to parent more effectively.
— Evaluate, select and purchase a seminar. Some are only two hours; others are weekly series. Some focus on topics, others on parenting different age groups, such as toddlers or teenagers. Many seminars include a leader’s manual. Visit EffectiveParenting.org and Family.org for options.
— Enlist volunteers to provide free childcare during the seminars. Encourage parents to bring their younger children.
— Before the seminar begins, allow time for parents to mingle. Be sure to have your church’s family, children’s or youth minister present to let parents know of other available ministries through the church.
— At the end of the seminar, ask parents to fill out a comment card, indicating other parenting issues or topics they’d like to learn more about. Use their suggestions to help you select future seminars.
Effective Parenting’s multisession video series are $199.95 each. Focus on the Family offers seminars for $40 each. All prices vary.
Church of the Saviour’s first seminar, held in January 2004, was so popular that the church has since offered other seminars while kids are in Sunday school, summer camp and other activities. The seminars have drawn a total of nearly 1,000 parents. “I consistently spend time with children and parents and see all the struggles they go through,” says Greenhalgh. “I hope COS is able to come alongside parents and help.
—From Outreach magazine, May/June 2006