Eight Week Evening Course

Your name and church
Naomi Shrubsole, Circencester Baptist Church

How did you use the Parenting for Faith materials?  
We put on a course, over 8 weeks with one week off for half term. We advertised it to the whole church, encouraging all those who influenced children to come. We had quite a lot that have younger children, a few grandparents, children’s leaders and youth leaders.

Why did you choose to use the sessions like this?
It gave time for parents/carers/grandparents/youth/children’s leaders to come out and have time with others. It was great that a couple of families had babysitters so we made sure we had good refreshments and sweets to keep them awake, and make the evening feel a little more special. Some parents chose to take it in turns each week and then catch up together during the week.

What day and time did you choose and how often?
Tuesday nights, 7.30 till 9.30 pm – not normally starting until 7.45 allowing time for those who could be there for 7.30 to socialise and for others to arrive after they’d got their children to bed.

Did you have to adapt the material to make it work for your sessions? If yes, can you tell us what you did?
Although the blurb about the course really encourages that it is for anyone that influences children, when it came to delivery there were several people that then struggled to see how they could use the material for those children that they influenced. Having had that feedback, I then made sure to widen my introduction to include everyone. For example, I encouraged individual reflection on anyone you influence (one delegate found the material was really useful for her brother who is in his 30s).

Also, several of the weeks we invited our church prayer ministry team to come along, to the chat, catch and children’s prayer ministry sessions. Again, I needed to be inclusive in the language I used and to model how this was appropriate to them. In the children and prayer ministry session, the video can suggest that this is a completely different model from church prayer ministry – but it can be a really useful tool to use – so again encouraging people to not get put off from what they might initially hear.

Each session we also tried to finish the main content around 9.10pm and then we’d go into sharing with a partner something specific/measurable we’d like prayer for this week and then praying for each other (out loud or in our heads) – again to encourage support and allow those that might not otherwise want, to share, give and receive.

What went well?
The involvement of the people that came. The stories that they shared, and also sharing things that I’d got wrong, or hadn’t gone so well, so that people could be encouraged by honesty during the journey, rather than thinking they were the only ones things weren’t going well for. I loved the fact that we had couples, single parents, parents where only one was a Christian, grandparents, prayer ministry and children’s leaders journeying together. It was wonderful to see relationships grow during the course, as it’s so practical and there are different group activities and interactions that help people to get to know each other too. We’ve had a lot of new people to our church recently, so these people made new friends, and it’s been great to see these have integrated quickly into the church.

It was also wonderful for me to see tools that I’d been using with my own child and in Children’s Ministry being tried, and seeing things go beyond what I could do by myself. Someone else said, I’m going to share this course with my parents – that’s fantastic that they can then go and share it with others who influence their child/ren.

There was one very vulnerable moment when we did the prayer ministry exercise. The prayer need I was going to share got answered during the day, and God made it clear to me I needed to share something, that actually was quite raw – but as I did, I knew he was with me – He spoke to me, but also from being vulnerable with the group, they also responded well to this activity.

What didn’t go so well?
A couple of people early on didn’t think the course was for them. But then others joined in part way through.

Would you use the material like this again?

Do you have any top tips for others who might want to use the sessions like this?

Spread the invites out to all those who influence children – but be prepared to adapt some of the materials.

Show you care for those that have come, make it special for them – this is a chance to bless those busy parents/grandparents and children’s workers.

Have a prayer team, supporting you and the course. This is a grace filled course that brings transformation to families, but also to the faith of those that are on the course, it needs to be covered in prayer.