This is an unprecedented time in ministry. Normally much of ministry is done in person, but with current restrictions for health concerns ministry is more virtual than physical. The parents of your Bible students need your love and support in their Christian parenting journey more than ever.
Stress is a strange thing. Sometimes the people you think will collapse under stress end up being incredibly resilient. Others you thought were strong, may struggle with the constant change, worry or other issues. At times, the stress a parent feels has a negative impact on their children. In severe cases, it can even result in children being abused physically or verbally.
How can you support parents as they live in our ever changing world?
- Check in periodically. Group messages are fine, but the most at risk families are often the most reluctant to share their concerns. Private conversations will allow them to express any issues they are having in a safe environment. Allow the parent to chose whether he or she would prefer a phone call or an email or text message.
- Scan social media posts for undue stress. Everyone has some level of stress at the moment. What you are looking for are posts that sound as if the person is struggling more than the average person – especially if there are unusual signs of depression or anger in the posts. Also check in on anyone who normally posts regularly, but seems to have suddenly disappeared from social media for several days.
- Suggest free resources. Many parents have been thrust into homeschooling. Not every school district is providing virtual learning. There is also a lot of additional free time that was normally spent in travel, transitioning (there is a lot of wasted time in a school environment that disappears in homeschooling) and activities. Parents need ideas for activities that are healthier for their kids than looking at screens all day.
- Consider providing a virtual “class” for your students. You don’t need fancy equipment. Google Hangout works well as do many other free platforms. They work with your iPad, computer or even your smart phone in a pinch.
- Share calming resources. Whether it’s the otter cam at the GA Aquarium, a Bible verse or a short video, share resources that will calm and soothe jangled nerves. Point them to God as much as possible of course, but sharing things from His creation can soothe, too.
- Share parenting resources. Many parents have not really had to parent their children very much, because they were rarely together. Parents may appreciate helpful hints. Teach One Reach One Ministries has free printable parenting sheets on a variety of parenting topics. Focus on the Family also has quality parenting resources which they will send to free if people can’t afford them.
- Offer a way they can share prayer requests with you and others if they wish. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Let them know periodically you are praying for their need and stay updated on any changes.
- Encourage them to contact you – any time – day or night. No one wants to get a crisis phone call in the middle of the night, but if a parent calls you, you may be the only one they trust to ask for help. Take the call. Call in reinforcements if you need them, but don’t leave any parent feeling isolated.
Lord willing, this crisis will pass and life will return to normal. As long as things remain uncertain though, providing extra support to the parents of your Bible students can be more helpful than you may ever understand.