Collaborative Formation Programming: Start a parenting group

April 29, 2014
Lifelong Formation Team

Today we welcome guest blogger Jenny Beaumont, who serves as the Director of Adult Spiritual Formation for Christ Episcopal Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is the first of a 3-part series by Jenny on formation programming based in small groups.

books“I need some advice!”

Parents often ask Christian educators, youth ministers and priests for advice. Instead of giving advice, try offering a Parenting Group that meets at the church. You can ask people who are interested in the group to suggest days or times that will work best for them. People tend to commit to things when they are part of the planning process. People support what they create.

A place for parents

Parents need a place to share ideas and to learn new things. Church is a natural place for them to build connections with other parents and learn more about parenting at the same time. A small group can help parents make the connection between their vocation and their parenting—they can see how they are the hands and feet of Christ in their homes. The church provides a welcoming and safe place for parents to struggle with the most important job that they have ever had—being parents.

Start Book Club

Some churches are responding to the need for parents to gather together by creating short term parenting “series.” You can schedule 3-4 weeks to read and discuss a book or a portion of a book. You don’t need to be a parenting expert or a psychologist to lead a parenting group. Often a peer leading a parenting group works the best and keeps the group from seeking answers from a professional in the room. Ask a parishioner with good small group skills or a staff person to lead the group.

Open and Close with Prayer

Ask for someone to open and close with prayer each week and take turns bring light refreshments. If you meet in the evening, a small snack may help parents who are coming straight from work. And food is an easy ice breaker—it makes everyone more comfortable.

Add a Christian Perspective

The leader comes to the session with guiding questions to get the conversation going. Add a Christian perspective by adding a parable or short passage from the Bible to the discussion.

Choosing the book

Ask a few interested people to preview a couple of books. Let them guide your choice of the book that you will be reading. The books below have been transformational in the way parents are raising their children and have been good books for a first time parenting group.

Books to try:

  • The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel
  • The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapmen
  • The Five Love Languages of Teenagers by Gary Chapmen
  • The Blessing of a B Minus by Wendy Mogel
  • The Launching Years by Laura Kastner & Jennifer Wyatt
  • Parenting Teens with Love and Logic  by Foster W. Cline

What have you found effective in gathering parent groups?