Here is the third rationale for my doctoral project:

A third rationale behind this project is a desire to achieve a partnership between parents and the local church. If parents are to teach their children the ways of the Lord, they must be intentional about bringing spirituality into their conversations. Many parents, upon realization of the biblical mandate for parenting, are too guilty to admit they have neglected spiritual conversations in the home and are too shameful to make a change in their homes. If one’s family seems too disinterested to make Christ the center of the home, the need is even greater than a parent originally suspected.

Most parents expect the church to do all the work associated with their children’s spiritual upbringing. Parents’ general attitude towards their involvement normally consists of connecting their children with the most qualified professionals and then stepping out of the professionals’ way. How can a parent safely assume that a volunteer will have as much concern about their child’s salvation than they will themselves? Due to seemingly sufficient children programming in churches, parents have been eased into complacency regarding their children’s spiritual development.

Eighty-seven percent of American parents claim satisfaction regarding the church’s children’s ministry, and they do not see the need for any improvement in the strategy or implementation. Before an effective children’s ministry can transpire in a church, a church staff and the children’s parents must agree upon a biblical, healthy partnership to give each child the best opportunity to follow Christ. A current diagnostic survey of children’s ministry normally finds church staffs attempting to fill ministry positions to have activities for children. Most churches have to beg volunteers to serve in children’s ministry, and in an attempt to retain volunteers, they have reduced the quality of curriculum and the demand of preparation on the leaders’ parts.

The simple problem with the disconnect is that parents are simply assuming churches will do the job that God has specifically called them to do. While many distractions exist for parents concerning raising their children, parents who make a lasting spiritual impact on their children are parents who dedicate themselves to that very process. And through a healthy partnership, church ministries could supplement what parents are teaching in the home and not vice versa.

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.