” Big churches, little churches, mega churches, church splits, church at home, in my home, overseas. Sleeping on church floors, dancing, preaching, acting, praying. Worship in small spaces, along to CDs, light shows, dry ice, 1 man bands. Wooden pews, comfy chairs, 70s carpet.
Camps, picnics, youth groups, home groups, study groups, new Christian courses, pre-marriage courses, worship nights, women’s events, worldview conferences, apologetics forums. OHPs, computers, newsletters, dishes, washing, vacuuming, arranging flowers. Attending Sunday school, teaching Sunday School, writing sermons, listening to sermons, sermon notes, doodles.
Laughing, crying, flagging, moshing, Father Abraham-ing, slain in the spirit, fire tunnels, baptisms. Bread and grape juice, wafers and wine, timtams and coke.
Jesus march, healing on the streets, beach cleanups, earthquake relief work, crusade counselling. Holding hands, laying hands, clapping hands. Making friends, losing friends.
A lifetime of memories – good, bad and ugly – furnished by the church.”
An annoted excerpt of Tessa Baty’s sermon on The Church Body
On Monday 30 July we held our first ever Parents Lab event. The topic was “You’re Losing Us – building life-long building in our young people”. Facilitated by Liz Eichler of Scripture Union, we delved into why at least half of our children will not continue their faith into adulthood and will walk away from church.
“Today you are all standing here before the Lord your God. Here are your leaders and important men. Your elders, officers and all the other men of Israel are here. Here are your wives and children and the foreigners who live among you. They chop your wood and carry your water.”
In this passage we see all the people of Israel are together. When God speaks to His people, he is speaking to everyone, not just the adults.
The Two Foundations
Our modern church has become very good at imparting information (about God) but this alone does not keep children in faith. While information is important, we also need to ensure that our children have experiences with God.
Like any type of building, foundations are key. For faith to grow in our children two foundations are have been identified as key in helping children stay in faith:
Parents are the primary discipler of their child. How can they know what a life of faith looks like if they don’t see it modelled? In families where faith is talked about and where children see their parents live out their relationship with Jesus, children are more likely to have a life-long faith.
Children who are part of a faith based community where they see people of all ages having relationships with Jesus are more likely to remain in faith. When a child feels like they are part of a community, and are valued as part of that community, they are more likely to want to stay in that community.
The eight pillars listed below are ways that we can intentionally give our children lifelong experiences that help them connect with Jesus and with the faith community.
- Encounters with Jesus
- Positive peer communities
- Peak experiences
- Mentoring/life coaching
- Anchors/Rites of Passage
- Serving in Mission
- Responding with compassion
- God’s big story
When we place these pillars on top of the foundations, we create a solid structure. These experiences can help children move from a family faith to their own life-long relationship with Jesus.
We will discuss these foundations and pillars in a future Parents Lab and brainstorm practical ways that we as parents and as the church can provide these experiences for our children.