Casting a Vision for Partnership
Ideas about the why and the how-to of vision casting toward partnership
Most parents in your congregation have no idea why they bring their kids to your church. That might seem like a ridiculous statement… but, I think it’s more true than not.
If you were to survey families in your church (assuming they’d actually do the extra work of filling out a survey and turning it back in) do you think that you’d get a consistant answer from various parents, grandparents and guardians about why their family attends church? On their own, families will develop a variety of reasons for church attendance and it’s your responsibility, if you want to develop a partnership between your church and families in your community, to begin casting a unified vision for why a family brings their children to your church.
Cast vision with what you say
Words have the power to help create and form reality. Our children are born without names and yet, because we choose a name for them and speak it into existence, they come to know that you’re addressing them when their name is spoken. In a similar way, you have the power to speak partnership into existence by using partnering terms with parents in your congregation.
Try building words & phrases like “partnering”, “partner”, “come-alongside”, “same team”, “in this together”, and “widen the circle” into the vocabulary you use during conversations, teaching moments and parenting gatherings. Look for moments to say, in front of kids and students, that you’re on the same team as their parents. You get bonus points if parents are actually around when you use this language.
Cast vision with what you print
This might sound redundant, but the words you type matter almost as much as the words you speak. Are you the kind of person who posts angry things about parents on your Facebook page? It seems to me that a good partner would encourage the person their working with – not talk smack about them in a public forum. Consider what it might look like to be the biggest cheerleader the parents in your congregation could ask for.
The next time you send an email, think about using words of partnership in your writing. Talk about initiatives that involve partnership. Talk about what it looks like to partner with you in raising kids who love Jesus. My emails all end with “partnering” language. That’s not an accident. If the language you use when you write simply talks about the programs you offer for kids, don’t be surprised when parents expect a new exciting program instead of a partnership from you.
Cast vision with what you show & celebrate
Have you ever noticed that most kids, when asked who their favorite superhero is, don’t think of mentioning the Invisible Man? Invisibility might be a neat power to think about having, but kids aren’t heading to your local Target next Halloween to buy the latest “Invisible Man” costume. Batman, Superman, Ironman and Disney Princesses will continue to dominate the costume aisle for any sort of foreseeable future. The Invisible Man has always had a PR problem… because nobody can see the guy.
With that in mind, you need to know that the vision of partnership between parents and your church has to be something that families can see before they know what they’re aiming for. It’s up to you, leader, to find ways to show your congregation what partnership looks like. Recently, a family at our church shared with us that their daughter had decided to follow Jesus at their house – and you better believe we’re sharing that story like crazy. If, in our context, we’re trying to equip families to talk about their faith at home, I couldn’t paint a better picture than parents leading their daughter to Jesus and then circling back to the church to celebrate the new life in their family. Don’t let your vision for partnership remain invisible – find ways to show it to your congregation and your community.
This is part of a series of posts on serving families in our communities. To see the notes and slides that go with this series, visit: http://westcoastcm.com/2012/10/03/turning-parents-into-partners/
other posts you might enjoy…
Parents into Partners: Strategy #1
Dreaming in Orange