Emma White, family and children’s pastor at Parkhead Nazarene (Methodist) Church in Glasgow, is an enthusiastic champion of Parenting of Faith resources, having run both the babies and toddlers course and the original eight-session course. But how did she first find out about Parenting for Faith?
8 October 2023
God in the every day
‘That’s a good story! As we went into the second lockdown, I was at home going, What am I even supposed to be doing with this role? I really didn’t know where to start, but then I went to an online seminar led by Rachel Turner as part of a conference called ‘Deep Impact’. It was a light-bulb moment. I thought, Wow! A – I wish I’d known this when my kids were younger, and B – what an amazing perspective, to see how God is already ministering to our children and our families.’
Emma was a stay-at-home mum for about ten years, and although her husband was very proactive, he worked long hours. ‘As a parent, personally, the weight of discipleship can be very, very heavy,’ she says. ‘Feeling that you’re not doing something is not a nice feeling. If you didn’t manage to do your set Bible study times, or whatever it was. But when I heard Rachel speak, the release of thinking Oh, I’ve actually already been doing some of that was immense. It really was a God moment of seeing this is good stuff, but also you’ve not failed in what you’ve already done.’
Emma caught the Parenting for Faith vision instantaneously: ‘I knew, yes, I can run with this! I thought for me, personally, this is amazing: how can I release our parents into this knowledge as well?’
‘When I heard Rachel Turner speak, the release of thinking “Oh, I’ve actually already been doing some of that” was immense. It really was a God moment of seeing this is good stuff.’
Left: Emma (far right) with the Parkhead Nazarene mum’s group
So, for the last two years Emma has been using Parenting for Faith resources in both her ministry with mums – ‘some dads, but mostly mums’ – and in her work on her church’s Sunday school curriculum. ‘Because I am a mum, I was just so desperate for them to get the message of the key Parenting for Faith tools. They’re probably already doing them, but knowing you’re doing them gives you even more confidence. Particularly coming in and out of lockdowns, we needed to let our parents know they already had the skills and not to feel there’s a void if they can’t get to church, not to fear that My kids will miss out because I’m not good enough.’
Emma ran the babies and toddlers course first, in the mums’ group, and then she ran the general course from September last year to just before Christmas. That was on Zoom, while the babies and toddlers course was in person. ‘The main course was on Zoom because it meant that some of my single mums were able to get along and didn’t have childcare issues.’ She is hoping to run the main course again this autumn, and it will again be on Zoom because ‘it’ll suit the parents – and some grandparents – better’.
When she came to run the courses herself, Emma loved seeing other people respond in the same way she had when she first encountered Parenting for Faith.
‘It was really interesting to see the same thought processes happening in the mums in that group. Again, that relief of Oh, I could do that! I’m already chatting away to my baby or singing over them, or praying with them, or pointing out things that they could then chat to God about, but giving them the language to do that really helped their confidence as parents in the world of faith.
‘The courses help us to identify where we are in our own faith, and then how to lead our children to their own faith. It feels that everyone’s grasped just how much God is in the detail of every day.’
Lives being changed
Emma asked one of her friends what had stood out for her most from the course. ‘She spoke about the fact that, as parents, we often feel we have to pray over or for our child, but giving the child the skills to go directly to God themselves no matter how young was a really helpful insight for this particular mum; she just felt that was a huge pressure off her, knowing that God already knew this little child in front of them and that they could just go straight to God with their concerns, their skinned knees or their hunger.
‘Another thing that was really impactful for some of our mums going through long night feeds, and not settling children, especially when they were on their own and didn’t have backup, was hearing that their thoughts were valid and they could just chat away to God and invite him into every conversation, no matter how difficult.’
Emma sees people’s lives being changed through the Parenting for Faith course, ‘both their faith personally, and how they then relate to their children. I think accessibility to God has increased. Some of the mums serve on our toddler team as well, and being able to use the skills they’ve learned in a ministry setting has been really helpful. So when I use language like, “Well, let’s just chat about that for a minute to God and see what comes up,” that’s helped us as a team. And it’s helped us to identify where we are in our own faith, and then how to minister, or lead our children to their own faith, whether that’s by modelling or by just a release of joy in what we’re doing. So whether that’s leading our children to the park, or examining a leaf and saying, “Wow, God, what an amazing world you made” – that sense of wonder. Or whether it’s when we’re in a toddler setting, and it’s total chaos, but we’re inviting God into the chaos and saying, “Welcome Jesus. Thank you for being in it already.”’