September 30, 2014
By By Andrew Jones & Patty Waterhouse
In the conversation regarding faith development in children and youth, several important facts bubble to the surface:
- Deuteronomy 6:6-7 reminds us that discipleship is a parental responsibility
- Parents have 3,000 hours with their children while churches have 40 hours
- Children imitate the values and beliefs of their parents
- Church and Sunday School should not be optional, but, if it is, we should equip our parents with simple tools they can use at home
- Parents have the opportunity to reinforce spiritual truths daily through life events
A new culture of ministry is evolving that requires a different approach in the discipleship of youth and children. Many churches have placed a bigger emphasis on Family Ministry because they realize that unless parents are learning along with the children, effectiveness of teaching Biblical truths is reduced dramatically. Reggie Joiner states in his book Orange that the parents have approximately 3,000 hours with their children, while the church an average of only 40 hours if the family attends regularly.
The church is competing with sports, clubs and other activities that take place during the regular church hours. If we are unable to reach our families on Sunday or during midweek programs, then we need to find a way to get the resources into the hands of the parents so that they are equipped to shape the hearts of their children in the home.
The church still plays a vital role in offering basic teaching opportunities for families. Some examples are traditional Sunday School, Children’s Worship, Confirmation, Youth Group, and Vacation Bible School. In addition, churches still offer other events and corporate gatherings around Advent and Lent, where the foundational building blocks of our faith are taught. The church also provides a mentorship for the children that don’t have spiritual mothers and fathers guiding them.
The role of the church today is to empower, equip, and support our families so that Deuteronomy 6:6-7 is honored by partnering with parents as the true teachers of how to live a life that brings honor and glory to God. The following resources are recommended to facilitate this end goal.
- Spiritual Growth of Children by John Trent, Rick Osborne, and Kurt Bruner
- Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner
- and Carey Nieuwhof
- Sticky Faith by Kara Powell and Chap Clark
- Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel and
- Max Lucado
- Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
- The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell
- PluggedIn.com – Christian reviews of movies, video, music, games and television
- Gabbit: Family Faith – Free app for family friendly questions that lead to faith discussions
- The Bible App For Kids – Excellent app for telling Bible stories to young children with colorful pictures and audio
- Grow Proclaim Serve – Free app by Cokesbury that has a weekly Bible verse, video lesson, family game and music for babies through tweens. App also has a parent community link and games for the kids.