[box] i taught this workshop as a breakout session at the ETCH ministry conference in nashville, tn. below are my notes for “partnering with parents to point kids to Christ.”[/box]

same team/same goal

  •  same team same goal JESUS –  sometimes it may feel like you are moving in opposite directions but as believers, we should all have the same goal – JESUS!
  • it is not an us and them, it is a we.
  • get key parents involved early with your mission – new in a ministry position or need to make changes? gather a team of parents that make up all areas of your ministry and pray, dream, and plan with them. they will be your best resource for promoting information about changes, new programs, or losing programs/events. 


know your role

  • family is the primary place of faith training.
  • deuteronomy 6:4-8 “ Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
  • families look different – more and more single parents and grandparents are raising and bringing kids to church.  your ministry may also be made up of adoptive or foster parents. is your language and approach reflecting this?
  • be prepared if a ball is dropped – not all kids have the support of parents and a family that will lead them to Christ. ask God to open your eyes to see their needs.
  • who can you use as pinch hitters to take place of absent parents? – recruit a team of mature believers to be ready to invest in the lives of kids that don’t have a godly mentor. 

equip the team

  • supply parents with the tools they need to play their part.
  • stay current with issues they are facing – research and be prepared to give parents the resources, scriptures, and action steps they need to parent through crisis and worldly influences.
  • how are you equipping parents to lead their kids to Christ? – recently i was invited to an adult sunday school class for a q & a about how to lead a child to Christ. this 20 minute time period allowed me to speak to many parents to help them be prepared to walk their child through receiving Christ as Savior and Lord. i am already thinking how i can multiply this time and reach even more parents.
  • educate – make sure parents know what their kids are learning so they can continue the conversation at home. supply them with practical tools to discuss and apply these truths outside the church walls.


  • rule of 7  – the old rule of marketing is that people need to see or read a message seven times before they really receive it. how often are you sharing a message you need parents to really hear?
  • #kidmintrenchtalk – just when you think you are getting on their nerves they are just getting the message.
  • communication ideas – schedule constant contact or mailchimp emails to go out weekly with follow-up information, questions and ideas. use the free remind app to text parents follow-up information or details about an upcoming program or event. one of my favorite ways to communicate is via my personal or dawson kids blog. on this blog, we can share vision, theme, and a more detailed description of what children experienced.  


chances are you won’t hit a hole in one, or if you are like me, even hit the ball the first time you head out to the golf course. just like we need practice in sports, parents need practice being the faith leaders of their family. we can partner with them to make this a possibility.

  • make them a part of your classes (Gospel class) or new Christian class. i blog about our Gospel class here, but the more parents can be a part of faith conversations, the more confident they will be when it is time to lead their child to Christ. 
  • family worship times are a great time for families to experience faith activities and discussions together while being led by leadership. i have many of our family worship times posted on this blog. blackout vine family worship
  • these times do not have to be elaborate. you can simply make conversation boxes for early arrival activities or take home crafts to continue the conversation. here is a download of some Gospel-centered questions you can use. Gospel questions   
  • this year we gave kids highlighters and we are encouraging parents and grandparents to highlight their favorite verse in their child’s Bible with a note beside it. 


cheer them on/support each other

  • Christ-centered parenting is tough, parents need our encouragement and support.
  • as a dawson kids staff we have started to divide up investors and families to contact with them weekly. we find out how we can pray or minister to them. we pray as a dk staff and then follow up with a card.  this has helped us move from surface to meaningful conversations in the hallway. it also helps us find families that are slipping through the cracks.
  • sometimes parents simply need the reminder that they have the same Holy Spirit living in them (if they are a Christ follower) that we do as ministry leaders. they can seek and trust the Spirit’s leadership.


respect (calendar) 

  • respect their time.
  • make the most of the time you have. plan as many things as you can when they are already at church.
  • plan with eternity in mind, not just another fun event.
  • quality over quantity – i often say the longer i am in ministry the less that i put on the calendar. i want parents to know and trust that each event and program i plan is purposeful and worth attending.
  • team up with other ministries – this can help cut done on different events and pulling the family is opposite directions.
  • don’t plan meetings that could be emails. don’t we all hate this?
  • bullet points – my dear friends had to teach me this the hard way. they said i was too wordy in communication and they didn’t have time to read it. they constantly told me to use bullet points and i am still trying to practice this. 🙂

finish strong 

hebrews 12:1-3 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

  • don’t quit – i often joke that kids have never made me want to quit my job, but parents have. let’s all remain committed to the call of God on our lives and the privilege it is to partner with parents.
  • ministry and partnering with parents is a marathon, not a sprint. one day at a time and one idea or change at a time.
  • families and many generations to come could be changed forever.

[box type=”warning”] dWELL copyright © danielle bell and dWELL, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to danielle bell and dWELL with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.[/box]

i am super excited about our strategic plan to inform, educate, challenge and encourage dawson kids parents in our 2017-2018 equipped theme. one of the ways we are doing that is through our dawson kids blog. through a very structured schedule, developed by our associate minister to children jon meads, we plan to have weekly updates from dawson kids staff, investors, and parents. through this blog, we hope to not only lead them to dig deeper into God’s Word but apply to their life and the family’s journey.

we have our first two blogs up so be sure to check out the site here. we look forward to using this site in various ways to come alongside families in equipping them with God’s Word.

introducing. discipling. digging deeper.

introducing, discipling, and challenging families to dig deeper into God’s Word are the aspects that make up our “confident in Christ” discipleship strategy at dawson kids.  several times a year we offer the following classes to 1st-5th graders on sunday evenings.  i have the privilege of teaching these classes, but i believe the element that truly takes these classes beyond the church walls and into the fabric of each child’s faith is the intentional part their parents play in each study.

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 8.43.33 PMGospel class (introducing)-  this interactive class is designed for kids that are asking questions and seeking to follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior. this is a two week class for parents and children to attend together.  using the Gospel project’s “God’s plan for me”, we explore each of the five Christ-centered, clearly stated Gospel points this resource provides.  after introducing each truth, we creatively experience them in concrete ways to build a bridge to these glorious abstract concepts. Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 8.53.54 PM then parents and children work through a series of questions together (in class) about each truth.  this sweet time provides an open, honest dialogue between parent and child. parents not only personalize these truths with parts of their own spiritual journey, but they also get a glimpse of where their child is in his/her spiritual journey.  when the teaching and activities are over and the parent/child conversations begin, i sit back and take in the precious sight of parents being the primary faith trainers for their children.  it is by far my favorite part of this class! each family also receives their own copy of “the Gospel God’s plan for me” booklet to read, study the scriptures, and continue the discussion at home.

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 9.01.06 PM“i’m a Christian now” class (discipling)- this five week class (four weeks of workbook material) is designed for kids that have made a profession of faith. (we strongly encourage parents to have their child complete this class before baptism.) parents are asked to attend the first class (many stay for all five) and also complete the daily homework each week with their child. during class we don’t just review the facts in the homework, we experience these life-changing truths through hands-on activities and discover how they apply to our daily lives. we fall off tables for faith. each child literally gets their hands dirty when learning about sin and forgiveness. we march around the room to visualize repentance.  there is a tour of the church and baptism areas.  we also participate in prayer using the a.c.t.s. model, kids write out their testimonies, and much more.

digging deeper into God’ Word c.l.a.p. (digging deeper)-  i love devotional books for kids, but i am also passionate about kids learning to read, study and apply God’s word for themselves. i have had the pleasure of attending several of anne graham lotz’s Bible studies and have loved her sessions on how to study God’s Word.  as i began to practice her “3-question method” in my own quiet time, i was burdened to introduce it to the younger generations.  i decided to teach this method to my senior high girl’s small group.  they renamed the method c.l.a.p. (content, lesson, application, and prayer) and committed to giving it a try. we walked verse-by-verse through ephesians and hosea and i have never experienced such authentic share times.  lessons that could not be taught through workbook studies were coming to life as we simply sought God’s Word and what He had to say to us individually and as a group.   i know i am a children’s minister, but those sunday nights with that small group of youth girls and God’s Word are some of my favorite ministry memories. after teaching them, i knew i had to challenge the younger kids to begin to study God’s Word on their own.  we first incorporated c.l.a.p. in a children’s fall retreat, but it has since become a class i offer to parents and kids.  families come together for two weeks and learn this method and then practice at home.  i wish you could have been in my last session of this class.  i had several “chill bump moments” as i listened to families share what God said to them through a specific passage and how they were applying it to their families and individual lives.  glory!

i received two exciting video texts last week.  both of them brought a huge smile to my face, while they also reinforced one of my greatest passions in children’s ministry – partnering with parents.  i believe the church is a great place for Biblical truths to be taught, but if we are lucky we may get between 50-100 hours in a given year.  i believe it is the home, through the faithful discipleship of the parents, that life-changing ministry happens and spiritual truths are truly caught. these videos testify to the fact that while we may plant, water, and nurture spiritual seeds in the church walls, it is the consistent tending in the home that reaps such a precious harvest.



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that’s why i love the new family app lifeway has designed to continue the Gospel project learning at home.  this app combines all the learning from the classroom (videos, scripture memory, songs, discussion starters, and more) with activities families can do together to help apply these BIble truths to their daily lives.  families can discover together my favorite part of the Gospel project – how each Bible truth from old to new testament paints the beautiful story of Jesus Christ. (the Christ connection)

i wasn’t asked or paid to write this.  it is just incredibly exciting for me as a children’s minister to know that the powerful Bible truths shared so passionately by my investors in the classroom each week don’t stop at the church doors.  parents can now continue to explore these truths as a family all week long.  i can’t wait to hear how God uses this in the homes of dawson kids families.

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