Busy. Overwhelmed. Chaotic. These are the words I most often hear when I ask people to describe today’s families. Because of this busyness and the shifts in society and parenting, churches everywhere are seeing a decline in both attendance and engagement from young families.
I recently traveled to Peoria (Iowa) CRC to talk about Faith Formation Ministries’ new Family Faith Formation Toolkit. Pastor George Den Oudsten had presented a series of sermons called “Faith Stories” and “Tell Your Children.” For the last weekend of the series, they invited me to share with them the history and importance of family faith formation.
We gathered on Saturday night with three other churches and discussed the changes in our society over the last hundred years and how they affect families’ abilities to form children’s faith. We talked about how to help churches become places where young parents live into their faith in such a way that their kids also grow in their faith.
I also met with Peoria CRC families during Sunday school to talk about how everyday conversations can become faith-forming moments for kids and their parents, using the Building Blocks of Faith Toolkit as our guide. Starting with the idea “I Belong,” family members shared stories of when they felt God’s love. Everyone learned how to say “I love you” in a different language and took turns saying it to each participant by name. The room filled with smiles and the idea of what it feels like to belong and be loved.
Next we discussed “I Am Called And Equipped.” Participants shared what they wanted to be when they grew up or why they are in their current profession. Then we told each person one thing about the gifts we see in them. “You love to help your sister when she reads. I think you might make a great teacher someday,” was one example. We also shared verses about God doing good works in us and equipping us for service.
It was a great blessing to witness the conversations around each table. What a testament to the wisdom of our God in creating families and commanding us to “teach your children.” We are God’s family, and when we share our faith, lives change.
The Family Faith Formation Toolkit and Building Blocks of Faith are available for free at crcna.org/FaithFormation/toolkits.