Until very recently, I used to say that parents did not have the skills needed to pass on faith to their children. I would then go on to proclaim that it is the churches responsibility to help parents pass on that faith by giving parents the skills they need.
However, one of my mentors challenged me on this. He suggested that we need to change our language. Parents do have the skills to pass on a legacy of faith. The church merely needs to help unleash the power that is already within our parents.
This led me to think that helping parents is not about filling their minds with the knowledge of the church and the bible. It is not about having parents memorize facts (which is something we ask our children and youth to do in our programs).
Passing on a legacy of faith is actually quite simple, and it does not have anything to do with teaching or preaching.
It’s about dialogue.
As I evaluate my ministry, there are some questions I need to ask myself:
- How do I encourage parents and their children to talk about faith together?
- How do I encourage parents to pray with and for their children?
- What tools can I give them?
As I continue my series on The How-To Guide to Engaging Our Parents in Ministry, here are a few ideas for you to consider:
- Give parents lead-in questions. Before a religious education or youth ministry session, email the parents what the topic for the session is going to be. Give them a couple points that will be addressed. Then give them two or three questions that they can ask their child while they are driving home from the church or to use at the dinner table to spark conversation. Encourage parents to listen, but to also share their thoughts.
- Create family devotionals. One church I attended created a booklet that had a series of scripture passages, a short reflection, and some questions to answer. It was often in preparation for Easter or Christmas. It was a great tool for families because it gave something practical to mom’s and dad’s to use as part of their prayer or family time. One note of caution: make each devotional short. Don’t expect families to do anything longer than 15 minutes.
- Host a family night. Create an event where the entire family can come. Part of the night should be food, fun, and games. Include in this evening a short prayer experience with some reflection time. Allow the family to share their thoughts with each other.
Question: How do you help parents have faith conversations with their children?