Congregations need to move past the old paradigm that the church is solely responsible for developing faith formation. Instead the church should be a mentor and someone to walk alongside parents as they develop faith formation in their own children. This is what 21st century families need.
—Wade Zick, Vibrant Faith
As I read this quote from Vibrant Faith, the importance of linking church and home in this vital ministry of faith formation became more apparent to me. There are many ways church leaders need to encourage our families to stay involved with important conversations around faith development. Our culture has changed things so much. We need to keep this a priority in our ministry.
I grew up in times when there was little question about the relationship between church and home in my ongoing faith formation. Being at church as a family on Sunday mornings was not an option—we were there. I sat on my grandmother’s lap and read the family Bible. I saw a Bible open and available every day. That was significant and something I will never forget.
Through working in Presbyterian and Moravian churches, I recognized the importance of connecting church and home. When I was challenged last year to add children and family life education to my job description, I did not hesitate to step up to the challenge.
I have had the privilege of working on Loving Hearts United, a practical book for nurturing spiritual health in families at church and home. This wonderful resource is available through at moravianbcm.org. I have led several parenting classes using the resource along with incorporating Bible study around the issues. Families are very interested in the process, but still ask the age-old question, “How do I work these ideas into my already busy family schedule?”
Cultural changes have altered the patterns for tying together church and family responsibilities for faith formation. No longer is Sunday morning a sacred time for church. So many things compete for the quality time we need to spend with our children. The best advice I give to parents is not to get overwhelmed and simply take small baby steps in the process at home.
As church leaders, we must provide all the wonderful ideas for families so they have access to them. Along with Loving Hearts United are websites like Vibrant Faith at Home, GenOn with Heartfelt, and Building Faith. I have also been intrigued that so many Sunday School curriculum options now have a family component to tie what is taught in Sunday School to the home. This also helps since many times children are not there every Sunday. Some of these are print resources and some are on the Website of the curriculum option. We must continually highlight these options to families and encourage them to begin in small steps to work on a simple, weekly routine. Put the links in your newsletters, share them on Facebook, offer classes for parents, send out links to home pieces for specific Sunday School curriculum. The more we get out to families, the better.
I really appreciate these words in the Moravian Covenant for Christian Living regarding this connection:
As parents, remembering that our children are the property of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and take all possible care to preserve them from every evil influence. For this reason we will seek to approve ourselves as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, setting an example for our children. We will give faithful attention to the spiritual development of our children, both in the home and in the church.
Let’s keep this a priority each day as we encourage parents, grandparents, and families to work on a continuing faith formation. Support them in taking small steps so as not to be overwhelmed, but see this responsibility as a growing process.
Beth Hayes is a Christian educator who has spent 26 years as director of the Moravian Resource Center for the Board of Christian Education. She recently became director of congregational ministries and resources and helps congregations and Regional Conferences of Churches find ways to build effective children and family ministries. She continues to “curate” the Moravian Resource Center in Winston-Salem, NC. She can help with teacher training, children and family ministry consulting and development, Christian educator support, resource selection, and more! Beth is a member of Clemmons Moravian Church and also actively participates in the Come & Worship worshiping community. She and her husband Randy live in Clemmons.