'Wow! This is different!'

How ripples from the Parenting for Faith course blessed a whole church – Naomi's story

 

'I was looking for something that would really change lives'

Naomi is a youth and children’s pastor in a fast-growing church in a picturesque market town in the south of England. When two new interns expressed their desire for youth work, Naomi was concerned to not let the younger children lose out. Gradually she sensed God's call to empower parents to nurture faith in the home; after all, that was where children spent most of their time. But it wasn't straightforward. Lots of parents were new to church. Some came to church without their partners. Some were married to non-Christians. Naomi needed to find a way to empower them that was practical, down to earth and rooted in real life.

Some years previously, Naomi had read Rachel Turner’s book Parenting Children for a Life of Faith, published by The Bible Reading Fellowship. It had blown her away. ‘I’d even learned lots of new ways to connect with God myself,’ she said. Rachel’s approach is to help people openly share with children the reality of their walk with God – including all the good, bad and ugly bits – so that the children in turn can develop their own relationship with God in everyday life. Naomi had continued to follow Rachel’s ideas. Eventually, thanks to a chance conversation, she discovered the Parenting for Faith course and explored the video sessions on parentingforfaith.org. Everything fell into place as God began to fulfil her dream of empowering the church's families.

'For anyone that influences children'

The vision was even bigger than I expected. It was for godparents, family members, teachers – anyone that influences children. I thought, 'Wow! This is different!'  I was looking for something that would encourage parents – not just tackle how we teach kids to behave, but also really change lives.

Rereading Rachel’s book, Naomi realised that if she embarked on something this powerful, it would need to be covered in prayer. So she gathered together a team for that very purpose. She advertised the course and announced it at all three church services – to both the families in the congregations and the older members too. She wanted the meetings to be open to everyone.

What happened next

What happened next was even better than Naomi had hoped. Grandparents came. Those involved in the youth work came. Parents carved out time for the course, either hiring a babysitter or taking it in turns to come to the meeting while the partner at home watched the video (and then discussing it together later). Those who couldn’t make it to all the sessions caught up in their own time. One couple brought their three-month-old baby. Other parents who came had children in their 40s. The church’s regular prayer team even turned up for the three sessions on prayer.

For Naomi, it was overwhelming to see the tools that had so helped her own walk with God, and her own parenting, begin to be picked up by others – the impact rippling throughout the congregation as this movement of God gained its own momentum and grew exponentially.

Equipping everyone for mission and discipleship

older lady attending Parenting for Faith course

The Parenting for Faith approach is all about sharing your own experiences of faith in everyday life. It’s not just helpful for talking to children about God – it can work in any context. Naomi explains how the course moved people – including herself! – out of their comfort zone and helped them forward in their own walk with God:

After attending the course, one lady started praying with her brother. He ended up going back to church in his 30s!

‘It’s about being real ... journeying together. And not asking anyone to go anywhere you’re not prepared to go yourself!’

So is it for my church?

The Parenting for Faith course isn’t like any other parenting course. It’s about openly sharing the reality of your walk with God with the children in your life – through all the good, bad and ugly bits – so that they can develop their own relationship with God in everyday life. 

Here's Naomi’s advice to anyone thinking of running the course in their church:

Read Parenting Children for a Life of Faith. Look at the course material online. Do you ‘get’ it? People will come to the course because they trust you. Pray about it. Think outside the box about who you could invite and when to invite them. God was clearly leading us, and he made provision. If you’re in any doubt, chat to me!’

If you would like to talk to someone about running a Parenting for Faith course, please get in touch. You can talk to the Parenting for Faith team or ask us to put you in touch with Naomi. 

Contact Parenting for Faith

Find out more about the course

Read an independent review of the Parenting for Faith course, by blogger Mum-on-a-Mission.

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Image acknowledgements

Seated adults with toddler in park © City of Overland Park via Flickr licensed under CC2.0 / cropped