What is the vision we have for the children connected to our local churches?

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It's an important question to ask. The danger is that we sometimes think that we need to entertain the kids, so that we can properly help the adults go deeper with God but the writer of Proverbs explains, "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6, NIV).

My hope is that most churches want their children to become resilient disciples who choose to follow Jesus for themselves.

And with this in mind, what is our hope for our children in five years' time and 10 years' time and 25 years' time? Understanding the vision we have is really important because it frames how we do what we do.

In my early 20s, I was very involved in children's work in my local church. I thought I knew exactly what needed to be done to help children thrive in their faith. Each Sunday morning, I would have as much fun as possible with the kids while weaving in the things of God to pass on as much about the Christian faith as I could in that hour long session each week.

The kids would go home beaming and week by week they would be grasping the stories from the Gospels. Numbers were up and everyone was pleased that the children's work was flourishing.

However, since having children of my own, my understanding of the role of the local church has been dramatically changed. The sobering statistic is that only half of children who grow up in Christian families will still have a faith by the age of 18.

Today, I am still involved in local church children's work but my approach has profoundly shifted. I've come to realise how children are being shaped and formed throughout the week, in the school playground and by the screens they are watching. When I was younger, my approach was all about an hour-long club on a Sunday morning. That hour-long Sunday school club can be very powerful but there's more we can do.

Taking a step back, an average five year old might spend 77 hours a week sleeping, and a chunk of time at school and at other clubs. That hour a week at church, presuming they come every week, is minuscule in comparison. But what's interesting is that a five year old is likely to spend a whopping 30 hours a week at home with their parents or carers. Therefore they are the biggest influence on the child's life.

And so I have stopped thinking it's all about that one hour on a Sunday. If we are trying to help a child grasp what the Christian life is all about in an hour in a church hall, it is near impossible. The Christian faith is not just about truths we learn in a classroom setting but about how we live life well, following Jesus.

One of the most helpful sections of Scripture is a couple of verses that turn up three times in Deuteronomy.

"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up" (Deut 11:18-19).

Moses commanded the people of Israel to pass on the truths of God. But this commission isn't specific to the priests, the professionals and the keen volunteers but to everyone; and it happens not just at special meetings but in the everyday of life.

Over the last few years, in my work with the Kitchen Table Project, we have been thinking through how we empower and encourage parents and carers to share about the Christian faith in those 30 hours a week.

We have come to realise that we need to, in part, re-think how we approach children's work as local churches. The danger is that we give off the notion that the local church will disciple our kids for us. Instead we need to look for a much more holistic approach which is about the clubs we run but also about the way we empower parents and carers for the rest of the week, and ultimately how the whole church gets to be involved.

Lots of this thinking forms the basis of our new 'Children's Faith: A Whole Church Approach to Family Ministry' resource. We are currently journeying with 80 churches as part of an online learning community and exploring two aspects of church life: firstly the programme and the things we do; and secondly, the culture and the way we do things.

So if your vision for the children connected to your church is that they become resilient disciples, then maybe we need to take stock of how we are approaching children's work and think through what we might need to adapt.

Andy Frost is the director of Share Jesus International and works alongside Care for the Family on the Kitchen Table Project, helping parents and carers nurture faith in the home. He is the presenter of the new resource, 'Children's Faith: A Whole Church Approach to Family Ministry' which can be obtained from https://kitchentable.org.uk/church/wholechurchapproach/