The Gospel Project for Kids team is excited about the new three-year scope and sequence that begins this fall and we have heard from so many kids ministry leaders across the country who are as well! As you prepare to launch into the new cycle of The Gospel Project for Kids in September – whether this is going to be your first time through or you are beginning your second – I would encourage you to see this as an opportunity to cast vision to the parents (or grandparents/guardians) of the kids in your ministry. One way to do this is by holding a parent kick-off meeting.
The Gospel Project for Kids begins in September meaning you may have a window in late August after school starts to schedule a meeting at a time when most parents are available. Depending on your church’s ministry rhythm and the activities of your families, you might be able to schedule a meeting on a Wednesday or Sunday evening during church activities (think about serving great desserts at these times), on a Saturday morning for a breakfast meeting, or whatever other timeframe you have found to be successful. If possible, line-up childcare so that you can connect with the parents with minimal distractions.
So you have the time and you know what you will feed your parents (you have to feed them something!); now what?
If I were leading the meeting, here’s what I would do:
1. Show parents from Scripture how all of the Bible points to Jesus (15 minutes)
This is part of the DNA of The Gospel Project and parents have to grasp this essential concept as we partner with them. I would use Luke 24:13-35 to drive this point home. Notice that as Jesus talks with the two disciples they share an emotional roller coaster with Him that reveals they didn’t understand what had happened the week before. One moment they reveal hope and the next minute despair. Did they have the facts right? They sure did. But they just couldn’t connect the dots.
This is why Jesus responds fairly strongly in verse 25 by calling them foolish. They had the information they needed, but they were slow of heart to believe it all. In other words, they should have known better.
I love how Jesus rebukes the two but then He walks them through the Bible and shows them how all of Scripture points to Him (v. 27). Not only is this a great picture of God coming down to our level to take us where we need to be, but it also provides us with the interpretive key to all of the Bible.
From cover to cover, the Bible is the story about Jesus.
Every story within the Bible is a pillar that supports THE story – the metanarrative of Scripture – the gospel. Consider showing The Big Story video to drive this point home.
But before you move on, don’t miss verse 32. Notice how the two disciples respond when they finally grasp the big story of Scripture – their hearts burned within them. In fact, their hearts burned so much so that they were compelled to act right then and there. They get up, turn around, and head right back to Jerusalem – from where they have just come – to report their experience to the other disciples. Traveling at night wasn’t safe, but that didn’t matter. Their fresh experience with Jesus demanded action.
That serves as a transition to the second big idea I would want parents to hear.
2. Talk about gospel transformation, not behavior modification (10 minutes)
Another key part of The Gospel Project DNA is that the gospel, when genuinely experienced, transforms. I love how the two disciples on the road to Emmaus illustrate this. And this is what we are after in The Gospel Project. We want the gospel to settle into the minds and hearts of kids and transform them through the power of the Holy Spirit. We aren’t after behavior modification where kids strive to act the way they are told to act – that misses the heart of the gospel (and it doesn’t work anyway) – we are after kids who are so captivated by the gospel – by the grace, love, and majesty of Jesus – that they want to live a life pleasing to Him. (Here is a video explaining this concept along with two other essentials of a kids ministry.)
Gospel transformation is about leading kids to focus on gratitude and wanting to please Christ rather than needing to appease Him. John Piper shares a wonderful illustration of this difference. Suppose, he says, that it was his marriage anniversary and so he takes flowers home to his wife. When he gives her the flowers she gushes and responds, “Oh, thank you, John! You didn’t have to!” Now suppose, he continues, that he replies, “Sure I did. It is our anniversary and you are my wife. It is my duty to bring you flowers.” How would she respond? Now, suppose he responds, “I know, but I want to! My love for you compels me to do this although giving you these flowers doesn’t even begin to reveal the love I have for you.”
That is a great picture of how our motives are important in driving our conduct. We don’t want kids who tell God they are obeying out of duty. We want kids who are obeying out of love and joy.
This can only be born out of the gospel. Which takes me to the third big idea.
3. Share “The Gospel: God’s Plan for Me” (5 minutes)
Does it seem odd that I would share the gospel at this meeting? There are two reasons why I would.
First, I cannot assume that all of the parents are followers of Jesus. In the midst of sharing about how I want the gospel to change kids, I wouldn’t want to miss leading parents to that same destination as well. The best way we can disciple kids is by making sure they have parents who follow Jesus and disciple them.
Second, I would want to be on the same page as the parents as we team together to point kids to Jesus and share the gospel. I want parents to know how to share the gospel with their kids and I want kids to be hearing the gospel at home and in church.
And that takes me to the fourth big idea.
4. Clarify the roles of the parents and the kids ministry (10 minutes)
Since I am already in the neighborhood, I may as well stop in for a visit and parse the partnership between parents and the church! This is a great time to remind parents that God has given them the responsibility and privilege of being their kids’ primary disciplers and that the kids ministry exists to support them in that process.
I would then walk the parents through the parent resources in The Gospel Project for Kids that are designed to help them in that role. The activity pages will include family discussion starters and activity ideas and, along with the Big Picture Cards, parents will be able to see the Bible story main points and Christ Connection each week. Add to that The Gospel Project for Kids app, and parents have plenty of resources to use in the home. I would encourage them to add these to their existing rhythm of family devotions, or as a way to start.
I also wouldn’t miss this opportunity to invite parents to invest in the kids ministry. I would share my heart to see parents model investing in meaningful ministry to their kids and encourage parents to pray through partnering in the kids ministry.
Which would take me to the fifth big idea.
5. Pray over the parents (5 minutes)
I would wrap-up the meeting by praying for the parents. I would express my gratitude for them and pray that God continues to work in and through them as they lead their kids to Jesus. I would pray for the kids ministry as it partners with them and I would pray that The Gospel Project bears fruit in showing kids how the Bible is all about Jesus. I would pray that each kids develops a passionate, meaningful relationship with Christ and that each one lives a life bringing glory to God.
So there you go. That’s one idea for you. Feel free to use all of it or parts of it as you find it helpful. What about you? How have you cast vision effectively and coached parents about The Gospel Project for Kids? Share a comment below and let us know.
Brian Dembowczyk is the team leader for The Gospel Project for Kids. He served in local church ministry for over 16 years before coming to LifeWay in 2014. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Brian and his wife, Tara, and their three children – Joshua, Hannah, and Caleb – live in Murfreesboro, TN, where Brian enjoys drinking coffee and teaching 1-3 graders at City Church.