Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Weekly Feast or Daily Bread? by Cheryl Harray

Last week I coordinated a meeting between Karen Steward (Faith@Home NZ Director) and children’s leaders from 3 large churches (one Presbyterian) in Dunedin that could all be described as ‘successful’ in terms of their growth in  children’s ministry.  It was a fascinating and animated conversation as we agreed that even the BEST children’s programme with all the bells and whistles was NOT the key to developing a life-long faith in children.

We shared stories and tossed around our combined experience and research that shows that life-long faith grows best in an environment where it can be modelled and practiced regularly.

 “The act of becoming a Christian is the actual practicing of being Christian over and over again,” says Ivy Beckwith.

This can happen to some extent at church in a weekly ‘feast’, but is far more effective when practised in homes, every day of the week (daily bread)

We acknowledged that the Christian education model of ‘send your children to our fantastic children’s programme and all will be well’ has unintentionally disempowered parents from their role as the primary nurturers of their children’s faith. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Statistics from the Search Institute show that parents are by far the most influential factor in developing children’s faith. Data also reveals that only a small percentage of families who regularly attend church pray together (other than mealtime grace), read the Bible or share faith conversations at home.

So do we throw out everything we’ve been doing and start again? No! Karen is working with Willow Creek to promote the Faith@Home movement in NZ that aims to ‘help churches build faith-filled homes 24/7’.

Of course this is relevant to more than just the children’s ministry. It’s about continually shaping all our church ministries so that we are increasingly ‘home-centred and church–assisted’ instead of ‘church-centred and home-assisted’.

The ‘Faith@Home’ message is a breath of fresh air that is devoid of ‘must-do’s’ and full of ‘could do’s’.

Kids Friendly advocates ministries that encourage families learning and growing in faith together. We have developed a ‘Partnering with Parents’ page on our website. Please share your resources and successes with us so we can  learn from each other.

Cheryl Harray is the Kids Friendly Advisor for the Synod of Otago and Southland.  She and her husband Ken have raised four beautiful children all deeply committed to Christ.  Cheryl is now a proud Grandma of Sam with whom she and his parents Malcolm and Vanessa Gordon continue to share their love and experience of Jesus.




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