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'We need to help Christian parents to nurture their children’s spirituality'

National charities Care for the Family and HOPE have launched a new report that aims to give fresh insights into how best to encourage Christian parents to nurture their children’s faith at home

Faith in our FamiliesThe research revealed that despite 95 per cent of parents acknowledging it was largely their responsibility to teach their children Christian faith, 92 per cent admitted they could be doing more.
 
Care for the Family, a national charity that aims to strengthen family life, claims their research demonstrates that parents, not church leaders, are their children’s biggest influencers when it comes to encouraging faith in their children – but many feel ill-equipped or simply don’t know where to start. Barriers to nurturing faith include family time being devoted to other activities and lack of confidence.

There were enough responses to create a special Baptist supplement to the report. Baptist parents replied that praying together and talking about God were particularly helpful, and placed a higher value on talking about faith with their child and sharing Bible stories with their child than the wider group.

However, Baptist parents were more concerned than the full parent sample about not having enough time to spend with their child, having family time devoted to other activities, not knowing what to do, and worrying about doing it wrong, according to the report. 

Over the next few years Care for the Family aims to produce more materials specifically for parents, and resources that churches can use to raise awareness among their congregations.


A Baptist response already taking shape

Bristol Baptist College has already identified a need for resourcing in this area: in September it is launching a new course in children and family and ministry training.

The Certificate in Theology, Ministry and Mission is a flexible one-year course that integrates pioneering vocational training, biblical study and theological reflection.  
 
The course leader is Sian Hancock, Director of the Centre for Family and Childhood Studies at Bristol Baptist College, and a member of the Children and Young Families Round Table, a group of Baptists dedicating to nurturing faith in those children, young people and families whom God has put us next to.

Sian said, ‘The course takes a family focussed approach to youth and children's work looking holistically at the family unit rather than in silo.  

‘As well as biblical and sociological perspectives on family there will be a specific focus on the range of practical skills needed to support and minister to parents.

‘This will include building purposeful relationships and communication with parents; the pastoral care of families; ways to nurture faith in the home; prayer, discipleship and spiritual formation and of course the vital task of reaching out to families who have yet to know Jesus.’

Children Family Ministry


'We need to help Christian parents to nurture their children’s spirituality'

Certainly a need to resource parents has been identified. The Care for the Family and HOPE research builds on earlier findings from a study by Barna on behalf of HOPE, the Church of England and Evangelical Alliance in 2015, and previous estimates that only 50 per cent of the children of Christian parents grow up with a personal faith of their own as adults.

In addition, according to Christian Research, the Church in the UK will have lost an estimated 1.1 million children between 1990 and 2020. They also predict that in the year 2020, 183,700 children aged under-15 will attend church compared to 375,300 in 2010 unless action is taken.
 
'If we are to see children and young people continuing in faith in our churches, we need to help Christian parents to nurture their children’s spirituality,' said Roy Crowne, Executive Director of HOPE.

'Most children spend only an hour or so a week in a church context compared to, probably, 30 hours with their parents – and that creates a challenge when we consider the balance of resources going into nurturing children directly through the church compared to helping parents nurture their children’s faith at home.'
 
Katharine Hill, UK Director at Care for the Family, said, 'By working with churches to give families encouragement, ideas and resources, we hope to see a significant increase in the number of children from Christian families who grow up to have a vibrant, personal relationship with God as adults.'

 

Related:
TogetherAutumn2016
The autumn 2016 edition of Baptists Together magazine Church for Everyone explored faith in children, young people and families. Download or view online in Issu here


“You just don’t know how weird church is” – We really shouldn’t underestimate the pressures the children and young people in our churches face

The importance of family time – Spending time talking and especially listening to our family is rarely easy, but it’s a vital investment for the future, says Rob Parsons of Care for the Family


Children and family ministry training – A new course that aims to equip children’s and families workers is being offered by Bristol Baptist College

 

Baptist Times, 03/04/2017
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