A Gospel-Graced Pathway
Is your church brimming with babies and children? Today’s expecting and new parents are actively seeking ways to spiritually nurture their growing families. Use these four steps to establish an intentional pathway for lasting connections with them, as they spiritually heal and thrive alongside Jesus. All recommended materials work independently and together for equipping families.
Step 1: Fill the gap between pre-marial counseling and the arrival of baby.
Couples have long benefitted from pre-marital classes and counseling. Wouldn’t they also benefit from similar support before they become parents, an even bigger transition? The Newborn Promise Project offers a small group or class tailored especially for them, giving couples a vision of God’s plan and the abilities they have to build their personal faith, their marriages, and their children’s spiritual lives. Even couples who have already become parents can benefit from such a study in their children’s early years.
Step 2: Celebrate new parenthood
Churches offering baby dedications want them to be personal and meaningful. Expand your tradition to celebrate new parenthood as well. Consider calling it a Parent + Baby Dedication and include a commitment of prayer and support from the church family—a reassuring message that you’ve “got their back” in the uncertain times ahead.
Make it a priority to have a coordinator for outreach and planning. You might put out feelers for a volunteer coordinator with a passion for the ministry, who loves babies and will pray over and serve their parents. This also would be an ideal time to connect new parents with experienced mentor couples, if your church offers such a program.
Give couples a gift copy of Your Newborn Promise Project: A Christian Pre-Parenting Primer for Husband and Wife to encourage their reliance on Jesus during this transformative season.
Step 3: Encourage life-saving connections
Having a baby presents plenty of physical challenges, but the battle is fought and won on the spiritual plane (Proverbs 18:14). New moms and dads desperately need personal connections to get them through a whole new way of life. Figuring out that life in community can be a lifesaver. All other differences of age, profession, and background fade when you’re all in the same dramatically new stage at the same time.
Encourage the parents participating in Steps 1 and 2 to continue to meet together as small groups. Accommodate them by offering the church facility and childcare for a small fee.
Today’s new Christian parents desire a strong faith community to surround their children, too. You could host a weekly Blanket Babies Group for new moms and infants. A church play yard could be used on nice days or a carpeted room inside on cold and rainy days. Moms bring their own blankets and share stories, laughter, and tears while the babies listen in. The format evolves as the children grow, and personal connections grow, too.
Let everyone know about the Expecting and New Parent Blog, the Newborn Promise Podcast and the Newborn Promise App, three quality info hubs that provide ongoing support with a Christian perspective on topics expecting and new parents care about most.
Step 4: Enrich Your Children’s Ministry
God pours eternity into developing hearts. He plants seeds of longing and love for him as life takes shape in the hidden place. Before we even see the light of day, God knows us through and through. Spiritual life begins in earnest with life itself. God brings us into the world with our minds wired and ready to hear his Word.
Words spoken to newborns are so powerful for development, conclusive studies show, that the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a directive for its pediatrician members to advocate reading to children from birth.
The world today has lost a grip on what it means to be human. But Jesus always calls us back to fundamental truths of how we are physically and spiritually made for a relationship with God. The beautiful part about life with God is that he makes the most important things about him the easiest to understand. Even young children, at their humble age, are capable of absorbing spiritual realities.
Give parents and children in your ministry spiritual support offered through these Bible-based resources:
For expecting and new parents: Spiritual Parenting in the First Five Years
Nursery through ages 7: The Learn, Absorb & Praise Board Book Collection
Pre-K through 2nd Grade: An 8-lesson Unit on the Soul