Monday, July 09, 2007


As part of my 15 month probation placement, I’m now starting to get into a routine of work and study.

Work this morning was helping at Partick South’s holiday club for children. We are using Scripture Union material called Waste Watchers. I almost always feel at a loss when helping with this kind of work, but I’m trying to hide that feeling under a perennial smile.

I know that children learn about the gospel through holiday clubs, and I know people who came to faith as children through such work. But recently I read a statistic that, if true, should seriously shake the church up. If a child either starts coming to church, or becomes a Christian, the rest of the family will follow in less than 5% of cases. If a mother…, the rest of the family will follow in less than 20%. If a father…, the statistic claimed a figure over 70%. Reflecting again on this claim I think it might have some value, even if the exact figures are questionable, and even if the context is (Christian?) America.

I can think of at least two families I know where the father came to faith, to be followed by mother and children. None of this denies the power of God in individual cases, or the value of telling children and mothers about the gospel of Jesus Christ. But it seems to me that the church in the UK tends to avoid the hard work of evangelising fathers. Our strategy appears to be to reach and win the parents (the mothers?) through the children. Perhaps this is the reason we reap so little fruit in our mission and outreach. We’ve managed to get things upside down.

Study today included reading some more of Tom Allan’s The Face of my Parish on the train. And I’m just about to read from the book - Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context. Snippets from, and thoughts on, one or both of these soon.


Stephen said...

I am totally with you on this - we must evangelise fathers. I tend to think that people want to do children's work because it is the most non-threatening option (along with services at residential homes) but the work of reaching men is hard. Men are pretty hopeless at relating to one another! People will often hide behind the platitude, "Children are the future of the church" (someone said that to me last Sunday) but they could not be more wrong IMHO. Parents are the future of the church, and particularly the fathers.

I'm just getting started...

Jenny said...

"Boys and girls...please get off of the table now." Do you find yourself saying this much, or are American children a little more wild?

As for children, mothers and fathers, I think we all need to be evangelized to. It strikes me as being a bit chauvinist to say that the rest of the family will go if the father converts. Yet, it's not a full effort at evangelizing to the whole family if one merely reaches the children and the mothers.