Loving our ‘Leavers’

One of the core ideas of Sticky Faith is that young people need to feel a part of their church community at each age and stage of their development in order for them to grow a faith that sticks with them through life.

The big faith challenge for a young person comes when they leave their home (and their home church), and step out into a world which doesn’t provide the foundation and routines that they’ve come to lean on.  So where does our responsibility lie when a young person in our church comes of age and leaves home?  Do we wave them off with our best wishes and hope to see them again at Christmas… or are they still a part of our community, even after they’ve left?

There are many ways which we could communicate to our young people that we still consider them part of our church family.  One easy way is to celebrate with them as they finish school and acknowledge their achievement.  Get them up at the front on a Sunday morning when they’ve finished their exams.  Tell them we’re proud of them.  Tell them we’re praying for them no matter what.  Tell them we’d love to hear from them and they’re welcome any time.  Give them a slot in the newsletter to share about their new experiences, or invite them to come back and speak to the youth about what college or Uni is like.

Another way is to reach out and remind them that we’re thinking of them.  What young person doesn’t glow a little- even the lads!- when you offer them some unexpected encouragement.  I’ve come across a website that I adore called Giver’s Log which is all about, well, giving.  The category ‘Happy Mail’ is dedicated to ideas for care parcels that you could send to a uni student to let them know you’re thinking about them.  And get this- all of the parcel ideas weigh 13 oz or less!  (As it’s an American site, this weight is what separates a letter from a parcel.  It’s probably not the same here, but it will still be pretty cheap to send!)  Check it out:

As our young people are finishing exams and taking next steps, let’s get encouraging!

Grace & Peace

Confession Time…

I came across the following blog post the other day and immediately, thought, ‘Yep.  Been there.’  I think, no matter what age our children are, if we admit it we’ve all had Sunday mornings which ended up more of a frustration than a blessing.

What I love about this article is how the mum has decided to turn difficult Sunday mornings right back round and make them a special, spiritual time once again.  Have a look!

why God loves it when young mommies go to church at happyhomefairy.com

What do you think?

(And if you feel the need, ask one of our ministers how you can make your own ‘dog collar’ from a washing up liquid bottle.  They’ve all done it!)

Grace & Peace

Being Your Children’s Biggest Fan

I came across these tween-encouragement-cards on the Sticky Faith website recently and was inspired.

You know all those moments we have as parents when our child does something really special and we just want to take a moment and say ‘Wow.’?  How often do we actually get to commemorate those moments?

These encouragement cards are such a fun way to communicate to our children that we’re proud of them, and on the busy days when it may not look like we notice the special things that they’ve done, we really do.  In our house, I hope to use these in a scrapbook for my little one to read when she’s old enough.

How do you encourage your child(ren)?  Share your ideas below!

Grace & Peace

Ready For Spring Yet? Me Too.

This year the Lancashire Methodist District is exploring evangelism.  As I’ve already written, evangelism really starts with sharing- a friendship, a story, a favour, a gift, or even just a simple cup of tea.  It is through our relationships that we truly demonstrate God’s message of love.

If this crazy season of not-yet-spring is getting you down, why not try and cheer someone up?  Here’s a brilliant article to help inspire:

20 Simple Ways to Brighten Someone’s Day

One of the great things about this list is that they are all things that you could do together as a family- which is not only sharing a good thing with someone else, but it’s also sharing a legacy with our children.  What a special thing!

If you and your family feel you’d like to do more to share your gifts and time, we’re looking to start a circuit Family Ministry Team which can help you do just that.  Just what the team does is entirely up to those who join.  It might be bringing meals to a family going through a hard time, or baking cakes just to cheer someone up, organizing family events or a babysitting scheme- or maybe you have other ideas of how we can be available and share what we have.  If you’re interested in being part of the conversation, please get in touch!

Thinking sunny thoughts,

Rachel

Praying Together at Home: Prayer Pots

Many of us like the prayer cube which is used at TOFs before our meal for family prayer.  If you don’t have one at home, why not make your own Prayer Pot?

 

Here are two fun examples-  click on the photos to find out more about them.

 

prayer pail

 

 

 

Have fun creating your own meaningful family prayer pail- and come back and tell us about it!

Fresh Ideas for a New Term

We’ve joined Pinterest!

Pinterest is an online ‘notice board’ for sharing ideas and inspiration.  Parents, children’s volunteers and local preachers are welcome to have a look and find resources for Bible stories, crafts and prayer- as well as encouragement and ideas for living our faith as a family at home.  Have fun!  (click on the image to go to our shiny new Pinterest board)

Pinterest

If you have any ideas our resources you’d like to pin on the board, get in touch!

How are we encouraging spirituality in our children?

This week I’m attending a conference run by the Methodist Church for its Lay Workers (ie. those of us whose name doesn’t begin with Rev.)  One of our keynote speakers is Dr. Rebecca Nye, an expert in the field of Childhood Spirituality.  She’s given us a lot of great things to think about, and one question that has really got me mulling over our own practices in our churches—

 Is all child-friendly practice necessarily friendly to children’s spirituality?

Dr. Nye outlined six key things to reflect on as we evaluate our ministry with children and young people and how we communicate spiritual concepts to them.

Space

What influence does the space we’re in have?.  What is the language of our space? Does it tell children to run and shout?  Or does it remind them of being in school (and for some, the feeling of being clever or dumb?)  Does it invite children to play with toys- or, for some in the same space, ‘I’m too old for this.’? Does it communicate that God is here? Or that this is a holy and safe space to be yourself?

 Process

Not product. Spiritual life is an ongoing work, not something which is completed. Prayer and worship are ways in which we grow, not things we achieve. Do we need to shift the focus of our time spent with children from learning outcomes to reflecting on the feelings and thoughts that a bible story bring? And how do we avoid turning prizes into a game of ‘guess what the teacher wants us to say. ‘. Do we give uninterrupted, unrushed time to creative response like arts and crafts?  And do we acknowledge the children whose work reflects their journey with the story- or just those who complete the best ‘product.’?

 Imagination

Children- particularly older ones- have to be given permission to use their imagination. Too often they get the impression that spiritual knowledge is a lot like maths, with clear and correct answers. And when I tell a Bible story, is it about my imagination- or about enabling the children to use theirs?

 Relationship

Are we attending to the quality of relationships we have with one another?  Are we evaluating how to make children feel like equals in the group, when we as leaders are a lot bigger and may have a lot more ‘answers’?  Also (and here’s a concept that got my imagination whirling)- relationship is not just about affecting one another, but about the quality of space between us as well.  How was the space between us this week- Was it holy? Friendly? Imaginative? Questioning and learning?

Dr. Nye didn’t get time to go into detail about the final two…

Intimacy

and

Trust

…but perhaps that gives us space to explore and work out our own values on these things.  Are the ways we communicate with our children and young people fostering in them a sense of intimacy and trust- with ourselves?  With God?  With their church family?  With the world around them?

She finished the seminar with a thought which, I felt, empowers and encourages us as Sunday school leaders, local preachers, and volunteers:

Spirituality in childhood is not an ‘extra luxury’- it is an essential!  Without it our kids won’t have real nourishment. 

What do you think??  Share your comments below!