‘It was a light-bulb moment for me’

Parenting for Faith’s Anna Hawken on the difference between ‘God-smart’ and ‘God-connected’ children


Helping families and churches raise God-smart children

I grew up in a Christian family, but reached a stage in my mid-20s when I looked around and saw that many of the Christian friends I'd grown up with weren't in church any more. As someone who was working in children’s ministry, it troubled me that children who had great experiences of church weren’t choosing a relationship with God in their teens and twenties. I was searching for an answer.

Then I came across Rachel Turner’s approach to Parenting for Faith. It was a huge mindset shift for me – a light-bulb moment – particularly her concept of a ‘God-connected’ child as opposed to a ‘God-smart’ child.

A God-smart child knows all the answers: they know how to sing the songs, find things in their Bible, act in church and be around lots of people…

But a God-connected child has a personal relationship with God: it affects every part of their day. They have a two-way communication with him. They know who he is. They know who they are – and they use that to make sense of life and the world around them.

A God-smart child knows all the answers. But a God-connected child has a personal relationship with God.

‘This changed everything’

Anna Hawken from Parenting for Faith

This changed everything for me. It changed how I personally relate to God and connect with him. It changed the way that I approach ministry. And of course it’s had a huge impact on how I parent my own children. Once I’d seen what a God-connected child looked like, I couldn't go back to just creating God-smart ones. My hope and prayer is that as others engage with Parenting for Faith, they’ll have that same experience:

That parents and carers will choose to help their children connect to God.

And that children’s, youth and family leaders will support them in doing that.  

Once I’d seen what a God-connected child looked like, I couldn't go back to just creating God-smart ones.

Empowering churches to make a difference

Parenting for Faith offers children’s, youth and family leaders an exciting opportunity to have a far greater impact. If the children or teens in their ministry come to church or youth group most weeks, they probably see them for 40 or 50 hours a year, but parents or carers, who see their children every day, have literally thousands of hours with them. It’s they who are with them in the everyday where so many of the opportunities to connect with God arise.

Parenting for Faith can be a powerful catalyst enabling children’s, youth and family leaders to encourage, equip and give confidence to parents and carers. As they teach and model the range of Parenting for Faith tools, they are enabling parents and carers to help their own children to connect with God in the midst of whatever life throws at them. And as children grow and change, parents can use the adaptable tools that they’ve learnt to tackle all sorts of different situations.

Hear a children's pastor explain how Parenting for Faith has changed the culture of her church.

Discover Parenting for Faith's five Key Tools.

Father and son outdoors

Where to start

It's given me the courage to chat more to my son about his relationship with God. We’ve started to take time to pray for each other – not long – but previously I wouldn’t have asked my son (15) to pray for me.

Doing the course was life-changing in terms of my parenting, and it was amazing as a pastor to see significant changes happening in the lives of the participants. We can't wait to run it again!

Whether you’re a parent, carer or church worker, there are lots of ways to get involved. A good place to start is the free Parenting for Faith video-based course, available online to stream or download. The eight 30-minute sessions give you tools and skills to help children meet and know God. Watch it on your own or with a few others.

Watch the Parenting for Faith course trailer video.

Running the Parenting for Faith course

If you decide to run a course in your church, there are also leader and participant handbooks so everything is already prepared for you. Churches are using the course in all sorts of different ways – as a sermon series, for a weekend away, in a closed Facebook group… find the way that works for you. 

Pushed for time?

Why not redeem the time when you’re cooking or commuting, ironing or running, to tune in to the regular Parenting for Faith podcast? This is approximately 20 minutes of topical tips, interviews and listener questions that will open your mind to new possibilities for nurturing faith in the children and teens in your life.

You can also sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

For children’s, youth and families workers

If you’re in children’s ministry, there are a host of ways you can connect with us and with others involved in this ministry.

Have lunch with us

Why not join our special Facebook group for ‘Lunch with Rachel’ – a monthly session of practical teaching when you can also raise your own questions and issues. 

Retreat with Parenting for Faith

We’d love to welcome you to our Parenting for Faith retreat where, with other children’s, youth and families leaders, you can unwind, worship, share, discover new ideas and have fun.

Check out all our Parenting for Faith events.

Go unplugged with Rachel Turner's ‘must-read’

Read It Takes a Church to Raise a Parent: Creating a culture where parenting for faith can flourish.

Easy to read and full of practical ideas, as well as big-picture thinking. A definite must-read for church leaders.

Presbyterian Herald

It takes a church to raise a parent book cover

Image acknowledgements

Extracted and adapted from Parenting for Faith’s presentation video for church workers.