Churches can help parents pass on faith to children
By Connie Faber, CL Editor
The most influential individuals in the spiritual lives of children and teens are Mom and Dad. It is the responsibility of churches to assist parents in this important task.
A 2011 study by the Barna Group shows that despite strong levels of spiritual activity during the teen years, six out of 10 20-somethings disengage from active participation in the Christian faith during their young adult years—and often beyond that. Statistically, that means two of my three children will disconnect from the local church as they transition from the teen years through their 20s.
A grassroots movement is seeking to address this disengagement by targeting the individuals that have the most influence in the spiritual lives of children and teens: Mom and Dad. Research shows that children rank their parents as the top influencers in their faith development (Search Institute). Unfortunately only 12 percent of church youth have ever talked with their mom about faith and only 5 percent have talked with their dad. So while we parents are the primary influencers in the spiritual lives of our children, most of us are not actively involved in passing on the faith.
So this crusade—involving a variety of Christian authors, seminars, conference and publishing houses—aims to equip churches to train parents to intentionally transform their children’s faith. This new approach is in contrast to the “destructive codependent relationship” that many parents and churches currently experience, says Jack Eggar, president and CEO of Awana. “Parents, with little inclination and few high-quality resources to devote to the spiritual nurture of their children, have largely abdicated the job to the church,” writes Eggar in his forward for Rock Solid Kids by Larry Fowler. “And the church has readily taken on a task that as originally mandated in Scripture to the parents of children.”
USMB congregations recognize this as an important issue. Three congregations in the Southern District Conference (SDC) have implemented programs to prepare parents and pastors from those congregations have written an article in this issue that we hope will spark an interest in CL readers to learn more about this movement. These pastors from First MB Church of Wichita, Kan., Hesston (Kan.) MB Church and North Oak Community Church of Hays, Kan., presented a workshop on the topic at the SDC convention last summer and are repeating it at the USMB delegate convention next month in Omaha, Neb.
USMB congregations must address this issue. We must equip parents in our congregation to nurture the spiritual lives of their children. We must not lose our children as they transition to being young adults.