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Establishing God’s kingdom in the next generation

Care for the Family launches project to help parents and carers nurture their children's faith

The word of God tells us to "train up children in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not depart from it". Andy Frost, director of Share Jesus International, is working alongside Care for the Family on the Kitchen Table Project. He explains how this much-needed initiative is helping mums, dads and carers establish in their children a lasting faith.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9 – 13, KJV).” This manner in which Jesus taught us to pray inspires me to make my life count for the purposes of God. It inspires me to play my part in seeing churches grow as people come to faith, to see the different realms of society transformed, and to see the nations more fully reflect God’s glory.

The word kingdom’ makes me think big picture — His kingdom here on earth. The danger is that I can sometimes make it solely about out there’ and not about in here’. I can fail to ask what God’s kingdom looks like for my life and perhaps, in particular, I can fail to ask, what does His kingdom coming in my family look like?

We can spend our lives looking for ways to influence the cultural spheres in which we operate and end up missing both the opportunity and the responsibility that many of us have to influence our family and to see God’s kingdom come in the lives of our children.

Eloise and Tilly, my two young daughters, with their flowing locks of blond hair and infectious giggles, are growing up in a world very different to the one I grew up in, with the escalating pressures of 21st century life. I long for them both to be in a relationship with the King and to find their role in His kingdom, but shockingly statistics suggest that just 50 per cent of children who grow up in Christian homes keep their faith as adults, according to the church Growth Research Programme.

We know there are no guarantees and that ultimately our children will need to make their own decisions, but perhaps we have underestimated the role we can play? The early years are important. Recent research from the church of England shows that 56 per cent of practicing Christians came to faith under the age of 11. Early childhood is particularly important in faith formation, as our children have an innate curiosity about God and find it easy to believe in a creator.

New campaign

Over the past year, I have been working with Care for the Family on a new campaign, the Kitchen Table Project. It’s a growing movement of mums, dads and carers learning from each other and sharing ideas to inspire faith in our children. At the heart of the project is a recognition that if we want to see God’s kingdom come, then we need to help the next generation discover their identity in Christ and what it means to follow Him. 

A primary focus for the campaign has been around helping parents to realise that they have the most influence on their children developing a faith that lasts. As local churches have made leaps and bounds in their children’s work programmes, the danger can be that we delegate that responsibility away to professionals, rather than looking for how we can add to what happens on a Sunday by nurturing faith in the day to day of life.

Through a range of resources that we have launched this year, we have seen groups of parents connecting to explore how they can encourage one another to be more intentional in inspiring faith in their children. Life is busy but if we are really committed to the kingdom, then we need to create space to think through how best we can nurture faith in the home.

Embarking on this journey with the Kitchen Table Project, I have discovered the simple things that I can instil into our family routine that will help my daughters’ faith flourish. I’ve seen how I can create more moments of prayer on the way to school and when my children have bad dreams. I’ve been able to build into our life habits that remind us of God’s faithfulness and what it means to be part of God’s people. I’ve become more aware of how to frame conversations that demonstrate to my little ones how important Jesus is to our family.

Whilst we can’t neglect the big picture vision of Your kingdom come’, we need to hold that in tension with looking for how we can pass on faith in our homes. Whether we are parents with young children ourselves or whether we know of parents in our congregations who we can support, we all have a part to play in seeing His kingdom established in the next generation.

Helpful resources

Inspire session

Inspire is an easy-to-run small group discussion to start us thinking about how to build faith in our children. It’s designed with a fun, relaxed and interactive format, allowing parents to share ideas and experiences. In the downloadable session pack you will find:

  • Step-by-step leader’s guide to help you run the session.
  • Two short five-minute video clips on faith at home and what the Bible says.
  • Questions and activities to help parents talk about their experiences and struggles.
  • 28 discussion cards to help us think about how we can be more intentional about building faith in the everyday.

Anyone can run Inspire – all you need is a group of mums, dads and carers, 90 minutes and off you go. All the resources are free to download at kitchentable​.org​.uk/​i​n​spire

church toolkit

The toolkit has been designed as a pickand- mix of resources that you can use in a way that suits your individual church. The aim is to develop a culture among parents and the church as a whole that helps us all to be involved in nurturing our children’s faith in a real and natural way. Our vision is that as a result, many more of our young people grow up with a lasting faith in God.

Key items include:

  • A booklet for leaders, Inspiring a faith that lasts – How churches can support parents in nurturing their children’s faith, which is free to download.
  • A four-part sermon series with discussion questions which could be used by small groups.
  • Leaflets and posters you can order to give out at church.

Find out more at kitchentable​.org​.uk/​t​o​olkit

Social media

Follow Kitchen Table Project on Facebook for regular ideas, verses, articles and motivation to help on the journey. These reminders of what builds faith help us be intentional each day in pointing our children to God. 

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