Being Families of Faith
By Brandon Zoll
My name is Pastor Brandon Zoll, and I am the new Pastor at Church of God of Exeter. I cannot express how much joy my family and I have to be able to join everyone here in Exeter. We look forward to getting to know everyone and being active members of the community. My wife and I both come from small communities in southern Indiana, and we consider our family a family ministry. As in we are a family that does ministry together, and we want to help other families be just that, a family ministry.
With this being said, I thought I should write a little bit about families ministering to one another in my first ever article to our local paper. You may already know the statistics but according to a research project done by LifeWay, over 70% of teenagers brought up in a faith tradition leave their faith tradition by the time they are 20. In understanding this, there is a question we must ask. Are we okay with this? I hope we are not.
There is a really good quote in my readings from a doctoral class on Christian Education that I took this past summer. It speaks volumes to the above statistic I have quoted.
The book is The Teaching Ministry of Congregations, by Richard Osmer, and he makes a very awesome point for those who wish to pass on their faith to their children and for churches who want their children to grow up in the faith, which if we take our faith seriously, it means we don’t have a choice on this matter. The word of God teaches us in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
This is one passage of the many that demonstrate the expectation and our calling to pass the faith on to our children. However, the biggest question in knowing we need to do it is, “how?” How do we pass on the faith, generation to generation? I feel Osmer gives us a really good starting point to answering this question,
“First, since the most important growth and learning of the natural learner takes place outside of settings such as the church school, the congregational curriculum must give special attention to parent education. The family is potentially one of the most important venues of Christian education during this period. In the home, children can begin to learn elementary action scripts for activities such as prayer, helping others, and sharing. If parents read their children simple, age-appropriate Bibles stories, then they lay a foundation for their children’s understanding of God and the church.” (Page, 124-125)
First, to parents, I want to both encourage and challenge you. You are the single most influential person in your children’s lives. You hold more sway than you think. If the faith isn’t practiced in the home it will be hard for your child(ren) to carry on the faith when they move from the home. We cannot simply sit idly by and expect the church to do all the work for us. The church only has our kids for three hours of the week if they are lucky. We have them for quite a lot more. If faith is to be taught and passed down it must begin in the home.
Now to churches. If we are not taking time in our educational processes to help and teach parents to do this very important work in their homes, we are failing in make disciples who make disciples. The church, over the years, has become very effective at reaching children and youth in the droves but has failed to effectively reach the parents of the children. We must be better at reaching families holistically. Not only educating children in the faith but teaching parents how to be teachers of the faith themselves in their homes. Only then will we start to see an ending to the mass exodus happening in our teenagers upon graduation from high school.
With all of this being said, I ask two questions; one to parents and one to churches.
Parents, what is one thing you can start doing today as a parent to help pass on the faith in our homes?
Churches, what is one thing you can begin or expand as to how you train parents to be teachers of the faith in their own homes?
If you would like to talk about this with me or would be interested in participating in a Faith Centered Parenting seminar in the coming weeks feel free to reach out to us here at the Church of God of Exeter.
Brandon Zoll is pastor of the Church of God of Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2631.
Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.