Sunday Reflection: Parenting

Today is my eldest daughter’s birthday. Halloween. When I attended church in early labour, I was concerned that I would not make it through the service. I felt safer sitting in the service, than I did at home. And as it was I still had 24 hours of labour to go before she made her appearance, waving at the world, she entered the world hand emerging first, as I was to find out her father had years before. Our congregation had a few nurses and a few parents so I felt more comfortable at church realising that many people in our multi-age congregation would know what to do, rather than me wondering what would happen at home. Anyway it seemed completely natural to me to be worshipping. I had prayed over and for my developing child throughout her pregnancy.

 We were part of, not just a congregation but a community, most people living within walking difference of our church, my Paster was around the corner with his school age family, my prayer partner and her brood lived opposite them. There were a few other new mums or mums to be and we would pass each other in the health centre, at Nursing Mother’s meetings, the supermarket, the doctors. I felt that I was in a community that would support us and we would be a part of as she grew, a blend of faith and secular.

What I wanted more than anything was for her to come to know God and be a part of this wonderful nurturing community.

I asked everyone, how do I help her to know God? Most did not have an answer for me, one informed me that it was like introducing her to any friend. But that statement, though true didn’t help me, so I continued praying for and with her, we continued the tradition of attending church together, we prayed at meal times, but we did not read Bible stories, we read secular books, it did not even occur to me that faith books for children even existed. 

With the congregation, she was dedicated, we moved to the front for the children’s talk and sat at the back so we would not disturb other’s in the congregation, eating treats to keep her quiet during the sermon. When the time came for her to join, Sunday School with the other children she left the service to learn. When she was old enough we started evening devotions when she went to bed, a bible reading some questions, which she didn’t enjoy at all. What helped her more was the Christian meditation we practiced.

She went to a Christian school, and I felt that I had done my best, but I was so disappointed when in her teen years she refused to come to church anymore, and I started to question, what I had done wrong to not show her God in a way she wanted in her life. It led me to question so much, to ask questions, to look closely at the gaps in my teaching her about faith. Yes, we could have read story books, watched videos, played computer games with a stronger faith focus. Did she not learn in ways that were appropriate to her learning styles?

God is not a stranger in our home. She still prays, meditates when stressed, she has accepted some of the things we did as a family such as Ski, and rejected others. She is not a part of a faith community other than within our family. I am the only one who is connected to a Church, yet each Christmas and Easter, she comes to church with me, not to please me, but because these events do not have any meaning for her without attending Church. 

As parents, we can not guarantee the faith choices our children make. We can only try our best, and leave the rest to God. Always keep the doors open for that conversation, or the opportunity, but respect their wishes, they like everyone else we come across must be free to open their ears to hear, and shape the faith process for themselves. We do not fail when our children don’t stay in the church, if they know God we have done our job.


Wendy L.

I am writing this on Wurundjeri land and wish to pay respect to all Elders, past, present and emerging.


Sunday Reflection: AS we move out of our buildings, who will we leave behind?

I have watched great organisations, and local congregations scrambling to produce on-line material over the last couple of weeks. Many will admit it’s stretched them, but from my observational position they have all risen well to deal with the situation as best as they can, given the constraints of technology, knowledge of its capabilities and use by both ministerial teams and congregations.


Many are trying to include those without technology. Also, bigger questions are being asked as to whether recreating what we had in the pre-covid world is replicable on line, and if there are different ways of doing community or faith on line? Great question. How do we deal with the children? How do we educate parents in the transference of faith? a question that those involved in Child and Family Ministry have been asking for over a decade but which has been unimportant to the wider church until now. Braden wrote a great open letter on this theme.


But there seems to me to be one other group that we are not addressing. And that is the “single” faith parent, and no I don’t mean, the socially single family, I mean the family who attend our congregations without the other spouse. Two parent households that do not share the same faith convictions.


These are the families who will not be gathered around the livestream service together. These are the families where the differing beliefs of the partners would have been evident in the formation of their relationship or where one parent has come to, or fallen away from faith during their partnership. Each family would have made their own decisions regarding the spiritual formation of the children, but they would be renegotiating this issue, along with all the other negotiations that have been happening in homes around the world.


This can lead to increased tensions in these families, OR they could lead to the advancement of faith discussions and decisions. How are you helping these families deal with either situation?


As we race to supply services, have we addressed how we deal with those who are searching for faith?

Do you have strong pastoral care, or communication lines that stay in touch with all your families?


And what about the child who is searching for faith? What are you offering them and how are you making that a safe on-line environment?


I have asked more questions but not solved any. Because the answers are also situational.


Assuming that all your efforts will be acceptable in a multifaith environment, is to fail those families that are in that situation. Find out what they will need, ask the questions rather than assuming that you have the answer, or solution. If there is one thing I have also noticed it’s that the consultation process has been lost as congregations try to move their physical activities on line. The wrong people are leading and those who are familiar with “living online” such as the ill, the travellers, those with disabilities are again being overlooked by those in the “physical congregation”. Let this new opportunity to be church be an inclusive one, or maybe one with multi access points. We are so use to the spiritual model of the labyrinth, one entry and exit point that maybe now is the time to explore faith formation as one of multiple entry and exit points. We have the technology.


With a background in the Wesleyan tradition, I’m encouraged by the story of being refused the capacity to preach in the Church of England, John took his preaching beyond the constraints of the buildings and took it into the fields. Christ saw the ill, those outside of society, the shamed and oppressed. As we enter this brand-new world, may we see the opportunities to not let anyone be left behind.


Wendy Lewis

Sunday Reflection: Preaching’s not for Children?

During the week, I had the good fortune to attended a local preaching conference.It was well run, had great speakers, motivated us and was an absolute delight to participate in. I should have been on the other side of the world, but as these things happen the fires that are heavily affecting two countries, America and Australia, put paid to business/social plans and so I was able to attend this instead. And I was excited, still am, but there was one thing, that niggles at me for the two days, this conference, for Ministers of the Word, assumed that their audience was over 18 years of age, understood English, and were educated to Tertiary level at a time when listening and contemplation were necessary skills for learning.

It did throw a nod to the mentally ill, first generation Australians, and a brief reference by one of the key note speakers to the fact that there is only one reference to mass gatherings and preaching while most other references of Jesus’s teaching in the Gospels was through stories and small group discussions.

Given that the convener was an ex-teacher and Chaplain at that, I was surprised by this oversight. I found the response that it was the responsibility of another department of the Church, unsatisfying. It perpetuates the idea that children are not part of ministry. Yet if we take the view that Preaching is more than the sermon, the whole construct of the service, children are still present for a third of the time in a traditional format, ie leaving through the service to attend Sunday School. These little jugs have ears, they see, hear, feel, even if the ecclesiastical arguments are beyond them. Failing to include the worshipping child in a conference on Preaching is an oversight, a mistake of history, but one that could so easily be addressed. Is it really, too hard to invite the presence of another department? Aren’t we in the business of integration!

And it is not just an issue with this conference, I spoke to some of our Minister’s that had attended an American Preaching conference earlier in the year, not one, recounted in their experience of the example of preaching with children.

Until the walls come down between child learning and faith formation, and adult worship the divide that exists between children and adults in the worshipping community will continue, while we still see that it is not important to give our best leaders to the children, we are not being true to Matthew 18: 1-5. We can do better, it takes a bit of thought and effort, but we are really close, if we just think a bit more broadly.


Wendy L.

Sunday Reflection: Finding Faith in the Grandparents house.

The last question to be considered in this series on Grandparents is how to be missional.

What makes Grandparents home an extension of the church that many grandchildren may never enter? How can grandparents express their faith in their own homes, respect their children, but remain true to themselves? Or how to be missional in your own home.

We have discussed the importance of negotiating with adult children,

And the need for spiritual development.

We know that maintaining relationship is at the heart of faith formation, so the grandparents’ home, should be a safe place where all your grandchildren are welcomed and encouraged.

If you can share your faith with your grandchildren, then you might also find that some of the things mentioned below might help to set your house apart and be a place where they can discuss faith issues and use faith terminology, especially important as these types of discussions are no longer acceptable in public places.

But there are also some things that you can share without getting your adult children offside.

Picture books, movies and TV shows can have Christian themes, or in the least themes that are Christian, encouraging these when in your presence breaks no rules but lets you share something of your belief system, in a less direct ways. Storypath and Picture Book Theology are great sites for finding books that can reflect a not necessarily intentional Christian theme or value. No need to preach just read the books and let your grandchild process the thoughts their way.

If you are allowed the freedom of sharing your faith with your unchurched grandchildren, your home may be the first/only experience of a faith community. In Australia protestants are not used to the concept of their home being an extension of their faith expression. I”m not talking about creating icons, but about creating an environment that reflects your Christian Heritage. Thus, how much you do, or how little depends on what you are feeling comfortable with.

Some things you might like to try are


Experiment with what works for you

Have fun influencing the next generation


Wendy L.

Sunday Reflection: Having THE conversation with your grown-up kids.

No not THAT conversation, hopefully by this age that has been done and dusted. No, I’m talking about that other S word, Spirituality.

Many in the Grandparent bracket, have never contemplated that a conversation about faith is really a conversation about spirituality.

By being so fixated on Church attendance or faith sharing we often by pass the idea that what we are asking about is the spiritual well being of our families. And as it has always been implicit in our conversations or needs for faith formation, we haven’t got our thinking around this very first element, spirituality. In fact, many don’t even know what it means or why it is important.

Spirituality is so important that, “The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) refers to spiritual rights in four of its articles, with a further four also outlining specific religious rights.”[1]

So, what is Spirituality? Nye’s little book Children’s Spirituality[2]explores and clearly explains how complex a definition it can be. She sets out the number of disciplines; educators, theologians, psychologists and they’re different way of looking at what1spirituality is. Nye looks at 3 explanations, the first an over simplified “God’s ways of being with children and children’s way of being with God”, but it is far broader as her next attempt shows, “children’s spirituality is an initially natural capacity for awareness of the sacred quality to life experiences. This experience can be conscious or unconscious, and sometimes fluctuates between both, but in both cases, can affect actions, feeling and thoughts. In childhood, spirituality is especially about being attracted towards “being in relation” responding to a call to more than “just me” – others, God, to creation or to a deeper inner sense of Self. This encounter with transcendence can happen in specific experiences or moments, as well as through imaginative or reflective activity.”[3] It is about relationship and the interconnectedness of all things. As Grandparents, the concern is our grandchild’s spiritual development will be stifled and not developed.[4]

Thus, the question we should be asking our unchurched adult children is how are they going to cultivate their child’s spirituality, especially when they have rejected faith themselves?

You also need to listen to their answers as they may have already worked out what is spiritually significant to them and how they will express that with their child.

Or it might give you a missional opportunity to share with your child, and how the Christian faith can benefit them and their child.

The very first point of connection a child has is with its mother, so strong bonding is an important spiritual beginning. Thus, your first duty to the spiritual formation of your grandchild is to help facilitate or provide the necessary support to allow that significant bonding experience to happen.

For something practical you can do, if your church does not have a mother and baby group, help start one, so that they can help nurture the parents in your local area.

You might also like to suggest that your child attends one near to them.

A grandparent’s support group or the creation of good relationships within your congregation can help you gain the support you need in your role as grandparent.

Also, what liturgies take place in your congregation to support the grandparent. One congregation we attended had a liturgy for the new grandparents, that involved handing them a rose and praying over the grandparents. Do others have this type of liturgy?


Wendy L.

[1]Nye, Rebecca, Children’s Spirituality: What it is and why it matters, (2014, Church House Publishing, London) p. 15

[2]Nye, Rebecca, Children’s Spirituality: What it is and why it matters, (2014, Church House Publishing, London)

[3]Nye, p.6.

[4]Nye, p. 85.

Sunday Reflection: How to negotiate with your adult children about what can and can’t be shared regarding faith with your grandchildren.

Each family is different, we all have our own ways of communicating or miscommunicating. But it seems that many adult children have found a way to be very clear about the fact that they are not interested in the faith of their parents.

So, it is with much trepidation that the grandparents I know approach me with concern about how to share their faith with their grandchildren, the children of these children that have wounded them so with their choices.

We negotiate healthy boundaries everyday, yet when it comes to our family many of those skills go out of the window. We jump into the war, and find that we are fighting along well worn lines even when trying hard not to make common mistakes.

These battlegrounds, are entrenched in our relationships and they are deeply entrenched. It might help you to read or re read Boundaries by Could and Townsend or you might find some helpful advice on Dr Clouds blog

It might also be worth having a different conversation with your adult children.

Break it down, work out what it is that you want to share with your grandchildren about yourself, about your faith.

For example, do you want to tell them about faith experiences in your life?

Do you want to tell them faith stories/ read from Children’s Bible Stories?

Do you want to be able to give them Christian based gifts, such as prayer books, bibles, storybooks, toys etc?

Do you want them to attend church with you? On religious holidays, or at other times during the year?

Do you want to pray withyour grandchild? No-one can stop you praying for your grandchildren or for that matter your children.

Are you expected to give up a church activity to attend sports, or other activities for your grandchildren?

Please share with us any other needs that need to be negotiated.

Being clear about what you want to talk about can help reduce the message being lost in the emotional pulls. Giving you a better chance of being heard.

And it’s just as important to listen to what your adult children want.

May I suggest that you,

1)Don’t talk about everything all at once,

2)choose your topics,

3)and have the discussions over days, weeks, years.

4)And get the conversation started early, well before it becomes necessary.

Above all, you are now missional, not confrontational. Your agenda is to bring your family to faith, NOT to isolate any of you from each other. Christ walked alongside people reaching their needs. What is your child’s need that has bought them to the decisions that they have?

Re-read last week’s post, to realise that positive affirming relationships are shown to be important to faith transmission.Sunday Reflection: The importance of Grandparents in Faith Transmission

And there is another conversation you need to have.

But that’s for discussion on another Sunday.


Wendy L.