By Julie Hagen
This fall my congregation began a new format for our children's church school. We need a significant larger amount of leadership from parents than years past and I've discovered that much of my job is finding ways to communicate the importance of being involved. We need parents to be a part of the ministry that is happening each week. Nancy Going recently blogged about The Race we, as the church, find ourselves in against all of the other things children have going on in their lives. How can we reinforce the importance of the Baptismal Promises parents made when they brought their child to the Font? The EYM studies have shown that parents play a vital role in their child's faith formation. How does the church communicate the importance of the partnership between church and home? Parents not only need the tools but the understanding that they are a vital part of their child's faith formation. I'm learning that instead of just looking at this as recruitment and filling spots, it's more about parents discovering that they are an active part of their child's faith formation.
Thank you! We celebrate that you understand that bringing your children to church is important. You are showing your children that being a part of a faith community makes a difference. Here children grow in their faith as they build relationships with each other and with God. But what your family experiences here is only a tip of the ice berg. There is so much more to the foundation of your child's faith development.
Which is why we need you! We need you to be involved in our ministry here at church. Whether you teach your child's class or lead a group of children who are not your own, you are helping shape the lives of young people today. You are reminding them that they are important, that they are cared for, and that God loves them. You are giving them tools that they will use along their faith journey for the rest of their lives. But it goes beyond the church walls.
You, as parents, are a crucial part of your child’s faith each and every day. We know that this looks different for each family, but the bottom line is, you are one of the most important people in your child's life. You are their first role model. And how you see what's happening around you is making an impact on their life. When your child sits in the cart at the grocery store, or the car seat, or while you’re on the phone as they eat their dinner, they are watching you. How you react to the world around you is shaping their world too. What an amazing and scary responsibility!
But you are not alone. Faith formation with children is a partnership between congregations and families. Most importantly, we as a congregation, continue to pray for you and all families. We are here to support you and provide tools for your family to use. A great way for families to grow in faith together is through prayer. What if you took out a box of crayons after dinner and let one person pick out a crayon. Think of all of the things you can give God thanks for that are that color. Or take a few minutes and draw how you are feeling today. Then pray for all of the opportunities you had that day and all of the ways God shared God's love with you that day. Or take out your Story Bible (if you don't have one, come pick one up at church!) and open it to a story. As you read the story, stop and take time to look at the pictures. Point to different people and places that you read in the story. Talk about how God was with the people in the story. Think about where you see God in your life.
Every time you tuck your children in bed or leave the house, make the sign of the cross on their forehead and tell them that God loves them. In the midst of running errands, picking up children from soccer, dance, and piano lessons, take a moment to remind yourself that God has blessed you with abundant gifts.
We as the church need you. Children need you. Together we are the body of Christ.
Thanks be to God!
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Julie Hagen works with Lower Elementary children and families at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Maple Grove. She is a pracitioner on the ground who is a First Third Voice for 2012-2013.