If you lead a small group of adults some of them are likely parents. Parenting is the hardest job in America if you ask me. Supporting parents through your small group and in your church might not be job #1, but it is close. I recently thought about this and decided to recommend some resources. I don’t make a penny with these endorsements, so no self-interest here. I want to help you strengthen families because strong families strengthen your church and advance the kingdom of God.
Last spring I came across The Disciple-Making Parent: A Comprehensive Guide to Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Jesus Christ by Chap Bettis. I am very impressed with this book, so much so I will use it in a couple of my classes. Now don’t fear that it is a dry textbook. It really isn’t a textbook at all. Written to parents, it provides down-to-earth, biblically-based help for parents who understand they are the disciple-makers in their homes. I recommend it. One idea is for parents to take their children, one at a time, on dates. Breakfast is the recommended meal because it is quick, inexpensive, and something kids will love. He calls these donut dates. He suggests taking only one child at a time so a mom or dad can concentrate on only one child at a time. What kid wouldn’t love a donut date with mom or dad?
I just learned that Bettis has released a little journal that parents can use to engage their children and make heart connections. It is called The Disciple-Making Parent’s Donut Date Journal: 70 Questions to Connect You to Your Child’s Heart by Chap Bettis. In it a parent will see a clever and thoughtful question at the top of each page. Below that question is space to write the child’s response. One question I found in an online preview is, “Who is your best friend right now and why?” As a dad, I would want to hear my sons answer that question, even now when they are adults. Another fun and insightful question is, “If you could become invisible, what would you do with that ability?” The way the pages are laid out, you can record answers over several years or record the answers of more than one child. The Donut Date Journal is very inexpensive. If you want to make a bulk order at a reduced price you can find that information here: https://www.theapollosproject.com/donutdatejournal/.
These are great resources for parents with children. How about a resource to help parents connect with their teenagers? The best resource I know, hands down, is 30 Days: Turning the Hearts of Parents & Teenagers Toward Each Other by Richard Ross and Gus Reyes. As the title suggests, this resource is used every day for thirty days. Each day, one parent with one teen sit knee to knee and open the sealed guide for that day. The guide asks questions and gives conversation starters to help connect hearts of moms and dads with their teens. I know both of these authors and greatly value what they know about teens. I have also known several parents who have completed 30 Days with their teens. Every one of these teens and parents had life-changing experiences with one another. Once the thirty days are over, parents can use the free resource, Heart Connex: Free Devotionals for Parents and Teens. Also prepared by Ross, there are enough parent/teens devotions, used in a weekly fashion, to last for years. And they are free! The devotions require less than five minutes to prepare and last about twenty minutes. Think how a parent/teen relationship might grow deeper and more centered on Jesus with the faithful use of such helps.
I decided early on in my parenting that nothing else in this life would matter if my sons did not find Jesus and heaven. Now both are leading their children to find Jesus and heaven. These resources and the time it takes to work them are such tiny investments in the eternal outcomes of their children’s lives. Help parents in your group to see this value and to be obedient to the Lord in raising their children.
Scripture: Read Malachi 4:5-6. Jesus later applied this passage to John the Baptist (Mt. 11:14; Mk. 9:11; Lk. 1:17). But notice the important role this passage said John would fulfill. How can we also turn the hearts of parents and children to one another? Why is this so important?
Dig Deeper: Look back at this post and check out the links to learn more about these resources.
Now It’s Your Turn: How is your church connecting children or teens and parents? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.