Rector's Letter

The importance of families

“Vicar, I want to have my baby christened!” I love those phone calls, and my response is invariably some version of, “Come and join us!” Every such conversation strengthens my conviction about the importance of the family in the journey that leads people to faith. I’ve had the privilege over many years of talking to parents who bring their children and young people to church. What motivates them? More often than not it’s their own early experiences of the Christian faith as they themselves grew up in their own families. That shows the vital role of parents in passing on the Christian faith to the next generation. Surveys show this too. The Talking Jesus survey found that 41% of practising Christians in England attributed their faith to having grown up in a Christian family. The Generation Z report found that 71% of young people, when asked who or what influenced the way they thought about faith and religion, said their family. This ought to be no surprise to any of us, since Proverbs 22 6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it”, and Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.” (Matthew 19 14)

Passing on the Christian faith to our children is the greatest privilege and most important responsibility of any parent (or grandparent). As a church, therefore, how can it not be one of our highest priorities to do all we can to support and equip parents and families in this vital task? We should be encouraged therefore that it’s our All-Age services that are consistently the best attended of all of our morning services, and we should be encouraged too by the number of young families who take part in our TeaTime services. And it’s wonderful that so many of our congregation, by their presence and participation, help to make our young families welcome at these services. I hope that all of us are equally doing the essential private work of praying for our young families and for their children, that they’ll come to know and trust in the Lord Jesus. Aside from our worship on Sundays, there’s also the work of building supportive friendships between parents and between families. We’re so blessed to have Katie Jackson on the team to lead this work for us, but it’s a responsibility that we all share equally, as we all have a vital part to play.

These signs of hope are reason for us all to rejoice, and they also encourage us to go on thinking and praying about what more we can do to support our young parents in their great God-given responsibilities.

Rob Thomas

© 2018 Trowbridge St James'