Faith at home
Research by the Church of England has highlighted that one of the most important factors in enabling children to continue in faith through to adulthood is the support they receive from their family – and yet the Faith in our families report published last year by Care for the Family showed a widespread lack of confidence in parents and a lack of tools to help.
The report highlighted that although most parents said they felt it was their responsibility to support and encourage faith, most also felt they should be doing more.
As a clergy kid, parent and youth worker I know only too well the balancing act between being too pushy and too laid back in how to encourage those we care for in their faith. At what point do I allow my child to choose if they come to church with me? Should I pray with them at home? How can I encourage my child to read the Bible? What’s more important, football or dance lessons on a Sunday morning or church?
The prevailing feeling is one of anxiety. I asked some young people and some who are older how they felt…
“I hated the idea of School on a Sunday and the term ‘quiet time’ – I didn’t do quiet as a child!”
“I found it difficult that they wouldn’t let me experiment with different churches.”
“They helped by creating a family space to pray and read the Bible. However, I don’t feel comfortable worshipping around them.”
“Within the past year we moved churches so that we could gain more from church and be around more people our own age.”
The difficulty is that there isn’t a simple answer – as with all parenting it is dependent on each child.
Care for the Family have produced materials to support carers and church workers – such as The Kitchen Table Project – a growing movement of mums and dads supporting each other, sharing ideas and encouragement to inspire faith in children. They also provide parenting courses churches can download and run. There are some great books such as The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family. Why not buy copies for every family in your church or those that come for baptisms?
There is an African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child”. It also takes a church to raise a family; supporting families takes whole church action. Simple things like babysitting so parents can go to mid-week groups will not just support the parents but also give children the opportunity to develop lifelong significant relationships with other adults in the church.
Responding to the desire to put the whole family at the centre of church in January 2019 we will be launching the Diocese of Norwich Children, Youth & Families Charter.
We hope signing up to the charter will enable churches to drill down on what it means to love children, young people and families – rather than being anxious about the lack of them or what to do with them. It will provide a way of telling families “we have your back”.
If you are interested in discussing the new Charter, please do get in touch with us via email or phone 01603 882345.
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Articles in this issue...
Supporting strangers and sojourners
Sally Clarke, who worships at St Stephens, Norwich, shares her individual approach in offering a home, not only to “regular” lodgers, but sometimes to those who others might think twice about accepting.More
Creating a home from home
When most people are settling into retirement, one couple took on a major project to provide a home from home for students. Here is their roller-coaster tale of the past two years.More
Adoption; the core of who we are
Without adoption, our Christian story might have been radically different. Christ’s earliest moments teach us to extend family generously, for our salvation as well as others’.More
What makes a home?
The cat’s made herself at home. After a year of upheaval, moving from Oulton Broad, Lowestoft, to Norwich (where she was bullied by a streetwise city cat) and then again to Sparham, Mo our 15-year-old cat has decided country life is the thing. She has also set up home in my PA’s office next door.More
A sense of belonging
Reflecting on home and family, I recall my own happy childhood when I naively believed everyone’s experience was similar. I was wrong. Family and home hold different meanings for people.More
Care Home Friends
Home and family comes in many different shapes and guises. One village church in Norfolk is making a real impact on the elderly in their community.More
Home at the heart of the Cathedral family
Before I worked in a cathedral l had never considered what such a majestic building really meant. Visiting cathedrals as a child I remember feeling unnerved within vast, cold space, stunned by stained glass windows, bemused by weird smells and strange objects. I recall the word “Shush” being used a lot too.More
The church as home – reflections on Mark 9:33-37
"Breaking down barriers and being a place that recognises that we're all unfit and need God and each other to get better"More
Our house, in the middle of our street
Not content with opening their home to others, Sue and Gary Moore, member of the Church Army, have gone one stop further by purchasing a second home for the use of those living in their community near Dereham, and calling it 'Our House'. Biddy Collyer went to meet them.More