Updated: May 25
When Bible Quest is employed in a larger church or parachurch context, a crucial component to the organization’s plan is how they will work with the parents of the students that they serve. Working in a church classroom has allowed me to experience the wide range of parent responses to Bible Quest.
I've seen parents that were entirely absent from their children's spiritual development.
I've seen parents that were incredulous that anyone would suggest that they be the primary discipler of their kids.
I've encountered optimistic parents that wanted to overcome their own Biblical ignorance and general nervousness about what to do with the spiritual formation of their children.
I've seen parents that were supportive and saw the impact of the method and mission of teaching God's Word using the classical method.
These experiences have shaped how I work with parents, but I have three areas of consideration I'd pose to church leaders as they design and develop how they work with parents in the context of classical programming: the best tools to equip your parents, the best opportunities for the Empower Phase, and how to partner with parents for the Expedition Phase.
The Best Tools to Equip Beginner Parents
Parents often feel like deer-in-headlights: "How do I do this? I'm not a pastor! Will I be effective? How can I fit more into our day? I'm already drowning!" The Equip Phase is the easiest place for any would-be discipler to start. Songs to play in the car, easy-to-use printed content they can place on the dinner table, and other, similar resources are the sorts of things that are easy for anyone to implement. Parents that want to be involved with their kids at home don't mind helping them to review memorization materials, especially if they are given the resources to do it. Once parents experience success with low-level Equip Phase tools, they are more likely to be encouraged to take the next step in the discipleship of their student. Memorization tools are the simplest, most likely to be employed, and all-around best tools to equip your beginner parents.
Empower-Level Tools are Discussion Tools
Discussion tools are wonderful and may be used by some parents, but unless your program is part of a highly motivated community, much of the more complicated Empower Phase-level activities should probably remain within your existing program time. I don't ever plan to assign Empower Phase-level work to be done outside of class time. My experience with assigning homework specifically as "work that should be done at home" is that if I want complex Empower Phase work done (Exercises or Explorations), I have to make opportunities with students to work together on it during the week.* That doesn't mean that parents or students don't care, it just means that most of them are busy.
However, parents can have Biblical discussions with their students. Provide specific passages to read together and specific questions for your parents to use in conversation at the table. If parents are given step-by-step tools and support for a simple idea like dinner-time discussion, you can set them up for success.
Parents and Expedition Phase Activities
The Empower Phase seeks to increase the understanding (dialectic capacity) of the student through in-depth conversation and aptitude-building exercises. The Expedition Phase leverages the student's use of their understanding to influence or impact others (wisdom/rhetoric). Expeditions are often opportunities for more mature students. I would work with students individually or in a small group, and then check-in on the student as they progress in their project. I would continue until it was ready for presentation to the group or use in the real world, and I would keep parents in the loop about how their student is progressing and how they can help. Expeditions are thus highly individualized and excellent opportunities for parental support. A student that accepts the call to do an Expedition Phase needs to be encouraged by their parents and held accountable by their mentor. With that kind of support, students thrive!
* If any of our readers have used a classical program built around the expectation of projects at home, I'd be very interested in seeing how things would work out. Please share your stories and insights here!