Raewyn Moodie is the Kaitiaki Children & Family Ministries for the Northern Baptist Association.

When we think about how we encourage the next generation to grow in their faith, we realise that parents really need to be at the centre of faith formation for children.

However, we are in a season where this can be difficult for many families for several reasons.

Those who have been in church for many years have seen a ‘professionalisation’ of ministry to children where they may have felt disempowered to walk alongside their children in their faith formation. The church has encouraged parents for the past 60 years to bring their children to church so that the professional children’s pastor can teach them about life with God and theology. Some parents may have gladly given this task to these professionals. This has meant we now have a generation of parents who, though faithful Christians themselves, feel they don’t know how to disciple their children.

With Christianity moving to the margins in our society, we also have new Christians bringing their families to church, who have never experienced any form of discipleship themselves and struggle to know how to pass this new faith of theirs onto their children. 

Rachel Turner, author of Parenting Children (also Babies and Toddlers, and Teens) for a Life of Faith, encourages parents to provide “windows” for their children to observe what their personal faith looks like. Then they can offer opportunities for young people to ask questions about what they see.

“The key to creating windows is to allow little glimpses into the various aspects of your personal relationship with God.” – Parenting Teens for a Life of Faith p. 22 

“Most of the time, children are completely unaware of how big a role our relationship with God plays in our daily lives, particularly in terms of how we overcome struggles, reach decisions, and handle hurts…But if we never model how to conquer those problems, then they won’t have a framework to learn how to do the hard bits of life with God…Children need to hear how you think and make decisions with God alongside you.” – Parenting Children for a Life of Faith Omnibus Edition pp. 22–23

This September, Rachel will be one of the presenters at Carey Baptist College’s biennial block course, newly titled “Faith Formation in Children”. 

Come along to this important block course either for audit (3 days) or credit (5 days) to learn more about how to encourage the families in your church to disciple their own children in their own homes. It will certainly be a blessing in your ministry space.

“This course is a wonderful week spent with others exploring Children’s Ministry, and the face-to-face interaction adds another level of community. It’s great to be in a room with people from all over New Zealand who are passionate about children & families ministry—hearing others’ experiences, gaining insight into children’s spiritual development, learning new ways to do things, and catching dreams of what you could take back to your own churches & ministry. It’s a week I’d highly recommend setting time aside to attend & I’m looking forward to returning this year!” – Bronwyn Elder from Invercargill Central Baptist Church

More details about this course are on the Carey website.

Read about the ideas influencing the 'what' and 'how' of children's faith in Jan Ozanne's article, Faith formation in children.

Photo: Supplied by Jan Ozanne with permission.

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