Often volunteers who teach kids and teens in Bible classes, urban ministries and faith based tutoring programs aren’t reminded their reach extends far beyond the time they have the students in their classes. Yes, what happens during that time is vitally important, but sometimes the impact you have outside of class is even greater.
We need to remember that our mission is not just to teach kids a bunch of facts about stories in the Bible or help them with academic skills. It is to help these kids and their families get to Heaven. If we truly love our students as much as we should, we need to be as passionate about getting their families to Heaven as we are about them.
There are a lot of great ways to include the entire family in your personal ministry. It doesn’t really matter if your entire program encourages or expects these things. You can probably do them all without getting permission and may even be able to encourage other volunteers to do the same.
Here are some of my favorite ways of touching the lives of the families of your students:
- Home Visits – I first realized the value of this when I worked summers in high school as a Title I teacher’s aide. We were required to visit the homes of every student. Visiting a child in their home not only shows the student and his family you really do care, but also gives you insight into other ways you can help the family grow closer to God and/or meet special needs they may have.
- Field Trips – There are so many great places in many towns that are low cost, can connect families to God and to each other. Many families spend little if any quality time together. Try family field trips to zoos or museums with exhibits from various cultures in the Bible. Many of them have special discounts for groups. Take the time to have a group devotional talking about how what you will see points your group to God in some way and then after the tour, have a picnic or snack together and discuss what you learned.
- Service Projects – Too often groups of kids and teens serve with only one or two parents along as chaperones. Why not turn your next service project into a family service project? As you would with student service projects make sure your preparation includes empathy training and reviewing how to share their faith and encourage others while serving. Don’t forget to have reflection time together after the project.
- Occasional Parent/Child Classes – Once a month or once a quarter have a class that includes parents. Choose a topic the family can continue at home during the week – like creating fun family devotionals or setting up a Bible corner in their home. You may even want to cover topics like Jacob and Esau and then teach godly conflict resolution skills and have the kids and parents practice scenarios during class.
- Parent Letters – Sending home a letter or email each week letting parents know exactly what happened during your class can give them the information they need to extend learning at home. They don’t have to be long, but should include the Bible lesson and scripture, the activity you did and what you wanted the kids to learn from it and one or two things they can do at home to help their child continue learning about it at home.
- Printable Parenting Resources – Teach One Reach One has free printable resources (available in English and Spanish) with tips on basic parenting topics from helping kids read and understand the Bible to conflict resolution and more. Print them off in color or black and white and send them home with your students. Parents can put them somewhere easy to spot and refer to them when they are struggling with the topic.
Reaching out to the families of your students can enhance the effectiveness of your ministry. You can point not just your students to God, but their families as well. It is definitely worth the extra time and effort.