Priorities ? Children and Families (by Peter Freeman)

It has been wonderful to be worshipping again in church with the church family. People have been returning to worship but there are still many friends who I have not seen, which has made me think about the word ‘priorities’.

The easing of lockdown restrictions has now given more opportunities to visit family, friends and to get away but, in the coming weeks, routines will be re-established and families will begin to prioritize what is important.
When we consider what the priorities for our children and grand-children should be, we may consider what the media tells us; the importance of a balanced diet, the eating of five portions of fruit and vegetables, working hard at school, exercising; but nearly always there is one element of life that is overlooked — the spiritual and mental well-being of our children.
When it comes to choices, many families today would not see regular church attendance as a priority, yet society has highlighted the genuine concern about the mental well-being of children post Covid 19. Perhaps we should be talking to families and discussing the facts itemised below.
These are the facts to the question ‘What are the life benefits of regular church attendance for families?’

  1. An increase in the average life expectancy of children by 8 years
  2. A significant reduction in children’s use and risk from Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs.
  3. A dramatic lowering of the risk of suicide. The rebound from depression is 70% faster if one attends church.
  4. A dramatic reduction in the risk of committing a crime.
  5. An improved attitude at school and an increase in their school participation
  6. An improvement in the odds for a “very happy” life.
    Whilst the figures highlighted in the statistics above, there is also a very important aspect to the question
    ‘What are the life benefits of regular church attendance for families?’ that should also be highlighted.
    I. Extended faith families teach children and youth how to develop their internal life, which is a
    proven stress-reliever and problem solving skill.
    II. The Extended faith family provides interaction with positive role models.
    III. The church offers a family atmosphere to children who’s relatives are far-flung or distant.
    IV. Church life allows children to see their parents demonstrating their values and engaging the world outside the home.
    V. Church life challenges children and youth to manage their priorities and challenges them to lead less self-centred lives.
    VI. The Extended faith family offers peer support and guidance to parents.

    In study, after study, after study, children who actively engage in a faith community on a regular basis are rewarded with significantly reduced likelihood of life problems and stand to significantly improve their odds of a happier, healthier, and longer life.
    As well as this, of course, they develop a relationship with Christ, his teachings, his life and his promises of eternal life for all who believe.
    The research findings show the same results for adults as well, so I ask the question again, What are your priorities as we come out of lockdown and you are blessed with more choice?
    Currently we are planning and delivering one service on each Sunday morning. This is an All-In service which is
    specifically aimed at encouraging participation by families. We are hoping more families will return in the coming weeks prior to the Sunday School (Kidzone) recommencing.
    The Open the Book team have just recorded the Pentecost story, to be provided to all the schools, and the decision has been made to record another before the end of the Summer term. The schools have been delighted with our productions and found them a real blessing. Hopefully, by September, we will once again be able to do Open the Book stories live and welcome the schools back into our church building.
    Please continue to pray for families and in particular our children. The Bible tells us how important they were
    to Jesus and how he demonstrated his love for them and our task is to continue to follow his lead.
    .
    Peter Freeman
    Children and Families Worker

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