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Children and Youth Ministry
August 2021
Spiritual Practices
Dear Friends,
We hope that you have had the chance to have a break and some refreshment over the summer months. As we are approaching a new school year and able to think more towards what we are able to do in our churches for the future, we wonder what you are planning to restart and what you may be changing or doing in a new way, following the enforced changes during COVID? It might be worth considering how we encourage and develop faith practices that help us grow in our faith and live as disciples.

A faith practice or spiritual discipline is a repeatable practice that
  • enriches our attentiveness to the Holy Spirit
  • cultivates the life and character of Jesus Christ in us
  • and strengthens our love for God and others.
There are many different Christian faith practices including the practices of: hospitality; sabbath; gratitude; generosity; prayer; justice; celebration; and lament.

An essential task of education in faith is to teach all the basic practices of the Christian faith. The fundamental aim of Christian education in all its forms, varieties, and settings should be that individuals—and indeed whole communities—learn these practices, be drawn into participation in them, learn to do them with increasingly deepened understanding and skill, learn to extend them more broadly and fully in their own lives and into their world, and learn to correct them, strengthen them, and improve them.
​Craig Dykstra - Growing in the Life of Faith

"Formation in Christian practices helps people to find a way to live with meaning and purpose. ‘We form people in the practices of the Christian way of life by drawing upon the wisdom of the Bible and Christian tradition, and connecting the practices to the “signs of the times” – the struggles, joys, needs, and hungers of people and communities today, and equipping people with the skills and ways to live the practice in their daily life.
John Roberto - Lifelong Faith

How might we develop and grow spiritual practices for ourselves, with children and young people, and in families?

Every Blessing
Isobel and Suzi
Contact us
Research that relates to developing spiritual practices
Z to A of Spirituality by Youth for Christ. Young people were asked questions about God and spirituality, prayer and experience, and their views of Church and Christianity. The findings of this research enable us to innovatively explore what it means to see a generation connect with the person of God for the first time.

 We do God by Youthscape. This research report highlights the way that Christian practice can help young people encounter God and develop faith of their own. In the ‘age of authenticity’ faith becomes real to young people when it is grounded in their everyday lives.​
Building spiritual habits
We need to build our own individual spiritual practices. These can be lived out, individually, with each other and modelled to others. We can also consider how to encourage and practice these along with others and with those we engage with.
  • Holy Habits is a series of books encouraging churches and individuals to explore holy habits through prayerful engagement with the Bible and live them out in whole-life, missional discipleship. The habits are: Biblical teaching; fellowship; breaking bread; sharing resources; serving; eating together; gladness and generosity; worship; prayer and making more disciples. There are lots of ideas and resources to develop these 'habits' with groups, in churches and intergenerationally.
  • Holy Habits in Messy Church has lots of ideas how spiritual practices can be modelled and developed in Messy Church contexts. These could also be adapted for other situations.
  • Faith Practices Project by the Christian Reformed Church  has ideas for individuals, groups and families. The website explains each practice and offers creative ideas for individual and communal practices, scripture passages to read, a thought or discussion questions, and a list of resources for going deeper.
  • Lifelong Faith has materials to plan and embed Christian formation through Christian practices.
 
Encouraging faith practices in the home
It is important for children and young people to see that faith is not just lived out and expressed in a church and on Sunday, but is something for all of life.  Faith is most effectively shared and lived in the home. Some families may appreciate some encouragement and ideas on how to develop these practices.

Faith is formed through embedded practices… specific, deliberate religious activities that are firmly intertwined with the daily habits of family routines.” (Robert Wuthnow - Growing Up Religious)

When households practice faith at home, everyone can grow closer to God. Research shows that children and youth whose families participate in Christian conversations, Bible reading, traditions, and prayer, are more likely to claim their faith as adults. Church leaders have a special role to play in encouraging and equipping families to connect Sunday worship with life at home.
  • 5 Ways To Develop Family Faith Practices by the  Christian Reformed Church. These sheets give creative ideas to explore on wonder; prayer; sharing the Bible; celebrating; sabbath; listening etc.
  • Faithful Families by Traci Smith is a book and web page that ​offers ways to discover and develop new spiritual practices as a family 
  • Growing With - Every Parent's Guide to Helping Teenagers and Young Adults Thrive in Their Faith, Family, and Future. Growing With equips you to take steps toward your teenager or young adult in a mutual journey of intentional growth that trusts God to transform your entire family through ‘withing’; ‘faithing’; ‘adulting’
  •  Sticky Faith Guide for the Family is full of practical ideas to help build a deep and lasting faith in your children and teenagers
  •  ​The Kitchen Table Project has ideas and resources to encourage families to live and share faith
 
Family Ministry Training
Thinking of exploring how to strengthen and deepen your connection, outreach and ministry with families?

Join our webinar on Thursday 4 November exploring the theology and missional  importance of family ministry, with keynote speaker Gail Adcock, author of The Essential Guide to Family Ministry.

This will be followed by a four-session practitioner training on Wednesdays  17, 24, November and 1, 8, December  Register here for the training sessions.
Family Webinar Registration
Paid Workers
If you are a paid children and youth family worker, you are warmly invited to join us for our weekly informal prayer gathering, our fortnightly online conversations and/or our monthly book club.

Our online conversation events each focus on a different theme so you can join as many or as few as you are able to:
  • Monday  16 August, from 1.30-3pm: Summer stories and future footsteps
  • Thursday 2 September, 11am-12.30pm: Intergenerational youth ministry
  • Monday 20 September, 1.30-3pm: Topic to be confirmed
Our monthly book club focuses on a different book each time and is a great opportunity to think about how we can contextualise our practice. This takes place on the final Wednesday of the month from 10-11.30am. Here are the upcoming book discussions:
  • 25 August: Faith in Children, by Ronni Lamont.
  • 29 September: Book to be confirmed
 
Ask for joining details
Other Training Opportunities
 
Resources and inspiration for those working with Children and Youth
Do you serve your church in the area of children and youth, either as a volunteer or paid worker?
Maybe you currently have few or no children in your congregation but are looking for a fresh approach?
Maybe you’re involved in particular ministries or have a particular area where you’d appreciate some input?
 
Whilst we provide general information in this newsletter that can help to resource and inspire you in your ministry with children and young people, we would like to be able to supplement that by sending you information at other times that is more tailored to your context and needs. If you would like to receive more tailored information periodically, then please let us know your contact details and areas of interest in our short questionnaire.
 
We will then add you to a database specifically for this purpose, and endeavour to tailor information to your needs.
 
If you have any questions about the questionnaire or about children and youth ministry in general please email your query to the Children and Youth team.
 
Add your details to the database
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