Click to enlarge.
From the Barna Goup
Over the years, Barna has conducted research surrounding children’s faith formation, focusing on some of the biggest questions faith leaders and parents are asking: Who is responsible for a child’s faith formation? What role does faith heritage play in spiritual development? What is the link between fun and faith in our homes? Now, in a new report produced in partnership with OneHope, Barna offers pastors and parents a deeper look into the faith formation of children, taking into account our ever-changing cultural and technological landscape.
One of the key findings of Guiding Children to Discover the Bible, Navigate Technology & Follow Jesus shows that nearly six in 10 highly engaged Christian parents say children’s programming is the primary reason they chose their current church (58%), proving that even though children may be small, they carry big weight when it comes to family decisions about where to worship.
For more click here.
Most UU churches are small, under 100 people. It is hard to have youth programming in such small congregations, and yet perhaps one of the reasons that UU churches in general tend to be small is that they are not focused on family ministry. Often parents seek a church that will help them with the faith formation of their children.
UU churches, in general, do a lousy job of faith formation for young people and so they lose an opportunity to be of service to people seeking a faith community for the whole family.
One of the reasons that Unitarian Universalism fails in its youth formation is because it fails to have broadly accepted rituals of developmental milestones. There is no first communion, no first confession, no confirmation, no Bar at Bat Mitzvah, no coming of age ceremonies build into liturgy and worship cycles, etc. With noting specific to prepare children for and nothing for parents to be proud and reassured by, parents are adrift with very little evidence of tangible support in faith formation by their religious congregations and affiliations.
Telling saccharine stories in the first part of the service and then marching the children out of the service to their own special play time seems to be a very anemic approach with very little substance with purposeful character development engaged in in any purposeful, intentional, sustainable way over the childhood life span.
If Unitarian Universalism is to maintain itself as a viable vehicle for nurturing spiritual development, it must give more attention to and increase its game when it comes to family ministry focused on faith formation for all members of the congregation with special emphasis on young people.