While children are most definitely a blessing from The Lord (Psalm 127:3), it’s no secret that expecting a baby can bring about the stress of the unknown. Claiming a spot on many lists of the most stressful events of life, having a baby can cause questions and doubts to arise. Will delivery go as planned? Will we be good parents? What if we mess up? After thinking through ways to encourage soon-to-be parents, the Preschool Ministry at The Loop Campus of Houston’s First started the Expectant Parent Ministry to be able to come alongside expectant parents and equip them with preschool discipleship resources before their baby arrives.
“I started thinking of ways we could connect better with parents before they enter our ministry,” says Director of Preschool Ministry Brianna Saunders. “We’d already started doing home deliveries with New Baby Boxes, but we weren’t finding out about new babies until after they were born. Because those gifts are so personalized, they take about a month to put together. I wasn’t able to bring the gift to new parents until a few months after their baby arrived. I wanted a way to know about pregnancies sooner so we could connect with those parents sooner.”
As part of the newly-established Expectant Parent Ministry, a family is able to fill out an interest form online. From there, they’re mailed a copy of Tying Their Shoes: A Christ-Centered Approach to Preparing for Parenting, a copy of Lifeway’s Ages and Stages booklet, and information about upcoming Parent Commitment ceremonies at Houston’s First that they can participate in once their baby arrives. They’re also paired with a prayer partner who is a classroom volunteer in the Preschool Ministry for a weekly text prayer point to pray over their child.
“I have enjoyed having this contact with my three families as they await the birth of their babies,” says prayer partner Judy Rogers. “It was exciting when one couple sent me a message right away with a few prayer requests and a photo of them with their ultrasound pictures of their baby… I sent the mom a picture of my husband and I with our two grandchildren, hoping to make my communications more real with a face to connect, even if not until their baby is born and I meet them in-person in the nursery.”
Once these new babies arrive, the Preschool Ministry hand delivers a New Baby Box filled with personalized gifts and helpful resources including letters from ministry leaders, a personalized baby blanket, The Power of a Praying Parent book, Say & Pray Devotions book, a Grow@Home bookmark, a NextGen QuickStart Guide, a Parent Commitment information card, a link to a lullaby playlist, and some bath bombs as a special treat for mom!
“It’s been a joy for me to get to connect with new parents and meet their sweet babies before they join us on Sundays,” says Brianna. “Making new baby visits is one of my favorite parts of my job. I also love the opportunity to share resources to help parents disciple their preschoolers. Discipleship can start in infancy, and we have resources to help parents learn how to do that.”
Since the New Baby Box program started in April 2021, close to 75 have been delivered so far. With the addition of the Expectant Parent Ministry, 19 expectant parents have been blessed with the helpful resources this new ministry offers. Everyone from the expectant and new parents to the prayer partners and the Preschool Ministry staff has been blessed by the response.
“I got a sweet note in 2021 after delivering a New Baby Box,” says Brianna. “The mom said the gift brought her to tears. They had a miscarriage the year before and said the gift was really special. She also said that she and her husband had been attending Houston’s First for years, and the box was the most personal thing anyone had done for them in their time here.”
For New and Expecting Parents
If your family is expecting a new baby biologically or through adoption, the Preschool Ministry wants to provide love, support, and prayer for you during this season! Find out more about the Expectant Parent Ministry and New Baby Box program here.