Children are an amazing gift from God (Psalm 127:3), known and loved by Him from before they were even born (Psalm 139). Becoming a parent is life changing. Whilst exciting, it is incredibly daunting, and getting to grips with all the responsibilities of helping a little one to learn and grow needs a huge amount of support and advice from others.
Midwives, health visitors and baby groups offer great support to parents and carers, coaching them to support their child’s physical, mental, and emotional development. But what about our little one’s spiritual life?
We are not talking about manipulating our children into a set of beliefs but recognising that every human has a spiritual part to them. This looks different for every child. Each of my three have walked a different path and relate to God in different ways. As parents it’s amazing to watch this unfurl and develop along with their character, as they grow and change through those early years.
They need our support and guidance to find their own journey of connecting with God. A connection which can support, sustain, encourage, and ground them now and in years to come. God longs to journey alongside them, teach them and give them peace (Isaiah 54:13).
The Church plays a wonderful role in serving parents and carers with little ones and is a welcoming support system for many. However, a baby that has been born in the last two years has been born into a world that isn’t ‘normal’, and parents haven’t had the face-to-face contact or support that is very much needed in those early days. What we now have is an opportunity for the church to engage and re-engage with these families in our post lockdown world.
I believe it is the job of the Church to empower new parents in their child’s spiritual journey. But have we almost forgotten about our youngest? And is the Church equipped for this role?
A recent study by Liverpool Hope University (Holmes et al. 2022) found that 40% of parents felt that the local church did not provide any resources to support family faith at home. Moreover, the study concluded over a quarter of church leaders didn’t know whether their families knew where to find resources. This is especially true of families with babies and toddlers.
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