Faith Nurture, Intergenerational Ministry
Coaching Corner: Belonging and Family Faith Formation
December 10, 2019
Updated January 21, 2020
6 comments 635 views
My 13-year-old son recently made profession of faith in our home church of Pease CRC in Pease, MN. As I was driving him to the dreaded meeting with the elders, I could see his knee bouncing at a frantic pace (which is his tell tale sign of nerves).
We started talking about what he could expect. We went through the names of the elders that would be in the room. He was surprised to realize how many of them he knew. We talked about the questions they might ask. “Why do you want to join church?” “What do you like about Pease Church?” His response to both questions was “Because the people in my church know my name and care about me.”
Recently, I’ve been talking a lot about Family Faith Formation with the churches in my region. Particularly about what the church’s role should be when it comes to forming faith in children. The questions I get the most is something like this: “How can we help families form faith if they’re too busy to come to our programs?”
I believe the solution lies in our sense of belonging. Do families and children feel like they belong to your congregation? Do they know they are missed when they don’t attend? Do they miss their church family when they miss a Sunday? If their answers to those questions are “no” or “not really,” then maybe some foundational relationships are missing.
Knowing a family and making them feel like they belong can look different from church to church. But the essentials are the same: know their names. Get to know what they like, what they’re into, and what makes them tick.
At the core, it’s about fostering intergenerational relationships within your congregation. It can be finding ways to intentionally include kids in the after worship fellowship time in your church. It can be monthly game nights for the whole church and intentionally getting different people around the tables each time. It can be a family mentoring system or an intergenerational Sunday school hour. It can be a men’s breakfast including all ages or loosely organized coffee shop dates with moms from your church.
The possibilities really are endless and the effects could be life-changing for your families, their kids, and the entire congregation. Sometimes, it’s not about the programs, but about the congregation doing life together.
With knees knocking, Carson walked into the room with all the elders. Before the door closed, I could hear Mr. Hubers ask him a question about his football season, and Mr. Goslinga ask him about deer hunting. And thanks to thin walls, after a few minutes I hear Pastor Michael tell the others about how he enjoyed having Carson in his membership class because of the good questions he asked. It was enough to make this mom tear up and enough to make Carson full of smiles when he came out of that room a few minutes later, walking a bit taller. Belonging. Carson felt it. We all need it. How is your church fostering it?
Faith Formation Ministries provides congregational faith formation leaders the opportunity to meet in-person or connect digitally or by phone with members of our team and other ministry leaders for coaching and support. Whether it’s a one-time, one-on-one conversation or a long-term peer group, we are here to help. For more information about our regional catalyzer, visit crcna.org/FaithFormation/coaching.
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Trudy, I think you hit the nail on the head with this post. We naturally seek out places where we belong. Places we feel safe, seen, and loved. When this is what our church home feels like, it's huge. Thank you for writing this!
Thanks for your comment, Staci, and I agree... we all naturally seek out places and people that make us feel like we belong. Thus the popular phrase: "These are my people." How great would it be if everyone in a church referred to their congregation as "my people"!
Yes, yes, yes! We just had this exact conversation on Thursday night with out Youth team and encouraging the rest of the church to learn our kiddos names and great them by name each week. I can't wait to pass this post to my team!
Thanks for your comment, Mindie. I love it that your church is talking about something so basic as knowing each other's names... It's a simple act that makes people feel known, like they belong. I believe belonging is so foundational to everyone's faith formation, young and old. I feel extremely blessed to belong to a church that does this so well. Yet, I know there are individuals that have not had the same experience at my church. So then the question is: How do we as the church help everyone that comes through our doors feel a sense of belonging? Knowing names is a great place to start. If you know someone's name, conversations and common ground are a lot easier to find and relationships can build from there. Blessings on you and your church for making this a priority!
So then the question is: How do we as the church help everyone that comes through our doors feel a sense of belonging?
YES! A question we have been asking lately. How do we remove the barriers that make new comers feel like outsiders from the moment they walk in the door. What can we do to level the playing field a bit more between regular attenders and those who walk in the door for the first time.
Great article Trudy! I'm going to share this with my church's Discipleship Committee.
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