This fall our congregation will have several baptisms. Whenever
we have these joyful celebrations, the congregation promises
to help the parents nurture their children in the faith. Churches
need to be involved in family ministries because of the promises
we make at each child's baptism/dedication, because of Jesus'
call for us to love our neighbors, and because families enrich
the lives of congregations. A recent survey of pastors found
that resources for the spiritual formation of children were what
they wanted most. We have found that Active Parenting is a wonderful
resource to help families.
Episcopal, Evangelical, Jewish, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian
and Roman Catholic are some of the faith traditions that have
enriched this ecumenical guide."
We teach Active Parenting annually because of the benefits
for our church members and others. Many of the parenting skills,
like sensitive listening, can easily be used by participants
in other contexts, such as between couples or at work. We have
had many young families join our churches after the parents first
came to attend a parenting seminar.
When we first taught the class we were not yet parents; we
are now blessed with John (age 15), Catherine (age 12) and Sarah
(age 10). One of the reasons we continue to teach it annually
is that the class is a helpful reminder to us about what we should
be doing as parents. We are better parents because of what Active
Parenting has taught us and from hearing the insights of hundreds
of other parents in our classes.
The original author of the wonderful Active Parenting in
the Community of Faith: A Biblical and Theological Guide
is Freda Gardner. She was a favorite professor of ours, and many
other fellow students, at Princeton Theological Seminary. Freda
is one of those gifted teachers who brings a true depth of understanding
to her subject as well as practical insights. She was recognized
by her fellow Christian educators as the "Educator of the
Year," and has served as the Moderator of the PCUSA General
Assembly. When Active Parenting Today was revised to become
Active Parenting Now, we were
honored when Freda agreed to have us do the updating of her resource
|"We are better
parents because of what Active Parenting has taught us and from
hearing the insights of hundreds of other parents in our classes."
The revised church guide takes the excellent text in Freda's
original guide and rearranges it to match changes in the new
Active Parenting Now. The twelve handouts are new and
offer a mixture of biblical material, questions for individual
and group reflection and a wealth of practical ideas to help
children and parents grow in faith together. Web page addresses
with helpful additional online resources are included in this
updated edition. We tried to combine an emphasis on "inward
and outward journeys" of faith and spiritual formation with
active discipleship. Active Parenting Product Development Manager
Rachel Metzger did a wonderful layout for the new guide, adding
helpful icons to make it easy for leaders to relate the church
guide to the program Leader's Guide.
Baptist, Congregational, Episcopal, Evangelical, Jewish, Lutheran,
Methodist, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic are some of the faith
traditions that have enriched this ecumenical guide. We are grateful
for Freda's thoughtful review and suggestions for the revised
guide, and also for the helpful insights of two national church
leaders in family ministryMartha Miller of the Presbyterian
Church (USA) and Mary Jane Pierce Norton of the United Methodist
Church. The new annotated bibliography offers 40 resources (90%
published in the last five years) for church libraries, personal
reading and group discussions. We are grateful that Active Parenting
has added a new web page with our suggested list of 30 helpful
web sites for parents, church educators and pastors at www.ActiveParenting.com/faith.
Blessings on your families, congregations and ministry.
Grace and Peace.
Bruce and Carolyn Winfrey Gillette are co-Pastors of First
Presbyterian Church in Pitman, NJ.