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A Family-Friendly Scrapbook

Connie Neal

Parents want to train their children spiritually! Barna Research Group reports that close to nine out of 10 parents of children under age 13 (85 percent) believe they have the primary responsibility for teaching their children about religious beliefs and spiritual matters.

Is that the "Hallelujah Chorus" I hear? It is if, like so many other children's ministers, you feel that one of your top challenges is getting parents to take seriously their role in their children's faith development.

Again, according to Barna Research Group, a majority of parents "do not spend any time during a typical week discussing religious matters or studying religious materials with their children." Parents who take their children to church with them tend to rely on the church to do the heavy lifting spiritually.

Why don't parents do more to fulfill their spiritual responsibility to their children? That's the age-old question.

Parents have been trained, however unwittingly, to depend on the church and in essence to hand over their children's spiritual training to the church. How can we give back what we've taken?

Parents need training, a plan, vision, and accountability. And you need strong ideas from churches that are successful at equipping parents with those things. Enjoy these snapshots of great ideas you can use to help parents train their children spiritually.

  • Our community outreach, Club Jesus -- a neighborhood backyard Bible club -- allows families to invite kids and families on their blocks to hear the gospel. -- Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, Washington
  • Parents are required to attend a three-hour seminar before they dedicate a child. This is where we lay out our vision and clarify the respective responsibilities of parents and the church in nurturing the faith of children. -- Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Take-home papers give families discussion starters and prayer ideas for mealtimes. These always connect to that week's lesson. Because of the curriculum we use, all classes study the same Scriptures that are the focus of worship each Sunday morning. -- First Baptist Church in Attleboro, Massachusetts
  • Turn On the Power! Parents get to experience with their kids what the kids experienced in class through Westwood's Power Line via the Web and a newsletter each week. There's a Voltage Verse -- a verse of the month. Get Connected helps families connect through suggested activities. The Information Power Source suggests Web sites, books, or videos to build on the lesson. -- Westwood Community Church in Excelsior, Minnesota
  • We emphasize the participation of children in our worship services and give parents instruction on how to prepare and assist their children in worship. -- Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Parents -- especially fathers -- play a key role in preparing children for baptism. Fathers instruct their children with the material that used to be taught by the children's or youth pastor. We also assist fathers with practical suggestions on how to give spiritual leadership in the home. -- Bethlehem Baptist Church
  • In and Out! Parents are critical for moving every crayon, every toy, every musical instrument, everything in and out of our portable church each Sunday. Our parent connection starts with parent involvement. -- Westwood Community Church

Connie Neal is the author of Walking Tall in Babylon: Raising Children to Be Godly and Wise in a Perilous World (WaterBrook Press). Please keep in mind that phone numbers, addresses, and prices are subject to change.

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