Many of us have made positive steps in building relationships with families and supporting them during lockdown. As lockdown eases and children head back to school, our families are likely to still value support and we don’t want to lose what we have built.
The danger is we can find ourselves falling back into old ways, focusing our time in other areas relating to our ministry so that the time for families can disappear. It is vital that we purposely block out time from our everyday planning to focus on connecting with our families, both those from within our church and those who are on the fringe.
Several years ago, a child came to one of my children’s clubs at church. Their parents dropped off and picked up, but had no other church connections. Making an intentional effort to speak with the parents every week, I slowly built up a good relationship with them. Each month, I diarised time to visit the family. A couple of years later, the family faced a huge crisis and it was the church they turned to. We were there to support them through every step of the way.
Every person needs to be intentional in supporting families and here are four ways that can help.
1. Block time to visit or phone your families – If in a larger church, delegate responsibility to other leaders, making sure that every family is contacted on a regular basis.
2. Listen to families and be there for them – Be sure to take an interest in all they say. Don’t be quick to respond or tell your stories, leave space for them to share.
3. Ask them specific questions – How can the church support your family? Are you happy for me to pray with you? If yes, what would you like me to pray for?
4. Serve their needs – After reviewing feedback of your families, is there anything that jumps out as a common trend in what families would benefit from? If so, what can be done to fulfil these needs?
Lockdown has brought strain and challenges in some way to most families and there is possibility that these could remain for some time. There may have been connections with church during lockdown which is why it is important as we move into a new term that connections remain strong and the church is active.
written by Fiona Stutton, Children’s Ministry Adviser