CHANGE?

How can your church motivate families to change their routine to pass down faith with consistency and intentionality?

The future of Christianity lies in the hands of the parents of this generation.  If they take seriously their responsibility to pass down faith to their children, the future of Christianity is bright.  However, if they never realize that they are the primary spiritual influence in the lives of their children, faith will decline at an alarming rate.  How is your church going to communicate this important message effectively?

When considering how to present a solution that is going to change the landscape of faith and family, it is important to have the right approach. How does one communicate this plan in a manner that changes a family's routine to include activities that successfully pass down faith?  Changing the way families pass down their faith is incredibly important to the future of Christianity.   With more than 60% of teens and college students walking away from their faithsomething must change.2  

It is not difficult to convince families and churches that the way they have been passing down faith isn’t working.  It has actually been refreshing to encounter so many families who freely admit that they must change the way their family approaches faith.  The most challenging part is for families to TAKE ACTION to change their routine.  It isn’t enough to simply raise awareness that parents need to intentionally pass down their faith.  Their awareness must lead them to action.  

If a church is serious about equipping families to change the way they pass down faith they need to consider a unique way to spark the type of change that is necessary. What is that spark? Some people seem to change relatively quickly yet others can take a long time to consider whether change is necessary and whether it is something worth pursuing. When people are faced with an encouragement to change, they can generally be placed in several different stages, which require different approaches to influence change. The following information is an adaptation of a well-researched model of change. The Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change 1 includes five major stages. It is commonly used to explain the behavior change process for people who are encouraged to live more healthy lives.

This model recognizes that the majority of people who need to change do not immediately make significant changes in their lives. In order to help families take the action required to pass down faith, it is necessary to understand this change process.

 

5 STAGES OF CHANGE

Stage 1: Pre-contemplation
Stage 2: Contemplation
Stage 3: Preparation
Stage 4: Action
Stage 5: Maintenance

 

PRE-CONTEMPLATION

People at this stage do not expect to make changes in their lives in the coming months and are not aware of the importance and of change. They are likely to see more benefits to remaining the same than to changing. They may not recognize that changing would in fact make their lives better. In the context of Imparting Faith, parents in this stage of change will need to learn more about the importance and benefits of passing down faith to their children in an intentional manner and begin to recognize how their current approach may be insufficient. Raising awareness about how the problem and the solution is very important here and a gentle influence is key. These parents should not be pushed to make big changes in their regular routine, but to simply become more aware of the Imparting Faith approach and how it can impact their children in the long-term. If a parent in this stage feels pushed to change before they are ready, they are likely to become defensive and begin avoiding Imparting Faith discussions or activities. Leaders will be more effective with parents in this stage if they listen empathically and try to understand where the parent is coming from or what they have already attempted in their families. Once the parent accepts that intentionally passing down faith is important for their family and feel some fear that doing nothing is worse than remaining the same, they will move on to the next stage.


CONTEMPLATION

During this stage people are intending to change in the near future, usually within 6 months. They understand the advantages of changing; however, the disadvantages seem about equal at this point, which creates difficulty in committing to change. A person in this stage procrastinates in making changes. In order to move on to the next stage, they must be given information about how their life and personal identity would be different and better by changing as well as gain knowledge about people who have already made these changes. 1

In the context of Imparting Faith, parents in this stage recognize passing down faith to their children is important; however, they may not feel confident in their ability or they see many obstacles in their way. They may doubt that they can do a better job than the church leaders and teachers. They need to be provided with a clear vision of what their family can look like if they begin imparting faith with more intentionality. They may need to evaluate their own faith and commitment to living a life filled with Christ. They need to see how overcoming their initial obstacles or worries about this process can provide a more meaningful family life and ensure the future faithfulness of their children. Furthermore, parents also need to learn more from people who have already begun intentionally passing down faith. Parents need to know that other families have made significant changes amidst challenges and have found imparting faith to their children a rewarding endeavor that is not as impossible as it may seem.


PREPARATION

People at this stage have decided they want to begin making changes, which usually occurs within the next month. As a part of their preparation, they take small steps toward these changes by informing family and friends about what they intend to do. They imagine what their life will be like after they have changed and ask others to support them in this process. People at this stage are most worried about failing as they get closer to making changes.

In the context of Imparting Faith, parents in this stage have committed to making changes. As they move toward action, they need to think about how passing down their faith would make them and their family feel. They need to build their confidence in beginning this process by telling other parents and church members about their intentions and asking for support. Parents in this stage need to talk with their children about beginning this process at home, which can be difficult for some parents who may distant relationships with their children or whose children are less interested in church related activities and faith. This is why speaking with others who can provide support and advice is very important in order to prevent parents from feeling like they have failed and stop progressing at this stage.


ACTION

People at this stage have made changes over the past 6 months and need encouragement to continue progressing. People need to remain committed to continue making changes and avoid the impulse to go back to their old ways. The person must remain attentive to the decisions they make regarding the people and activities they participate, which could result in returning to their old, less healthy behaviors. 1

In the context of Imparting Faith, parents have begun intentionally passing down their faith. They need to remain committed to their new mindset and routine as well as combat the impulse to stop trying or become casual and/or idle. People in this stage need to learn more techniques for keeping up their intentionality and purpose in imparting faith. Seeing positive benefits in their family will help them keep their commitment to Imparting Faith.


MAINTENANCE

People at this stage made changes over 6 months ago. As the title suggests, maintaining the behavior changes, especially in times of stress, is key in this stage. Some people can be easily tempted to return to their old ways and need to take specific measures to avoid situations that tempt them. They need to surround themselves with others who have made similar changes or who have been behaving in healthy ways for a long time. They need to have a back up plan to cope with unexpected stressful situations that could lead to unhealthy behaviors. 1

In the context of Imparting Faith, it is important for parents in this stage to be aware that consistency is the key in passing down faith. It is recommended that parents continue to seek support from other families who have been pursuing the same change. It will be important to share your experiences and ideas with each other in order to renew your commitment and feel encouraged to continue. If a parent finds themselves falling back on their commitment to passing down faith, becomes less involved in their children’s lives, encounters personal faith challenges, or simply feels too busy to intentionally impart faith, they need to seek assistance from their church family and church leaders.

 

HOW IMPARTING FAITH HELPS

The Imparting Faith Blueprint is unlike most books because it is written with churches in mind.  We wrote this resource for churches to pass out to the members of their congregation.  It is for families who are busy living life and do not have time to read a long book.  It is short, clear, and offers a graphically-appealing step-by-step plan that is easy to read. One of biggest advantages of passing out a book to your church members is that it is not dependent on a member's ability to attend or focus during a particular church event.  The book belongs to the member and will remain available for reading, re-reading, deeper study, and reference.  Providing a practical resource is the best way to clearly communicate how families and church members can change their family and the future of Christianity.  The success of Christianity in this generation depends on the ability of the local church to communicate God's commands for the family to pass down faith in Deut. 6 as clearly and practically as possible.

 
 

WE WANT TO PROVIDE SOMETHING FOR FAMILIES
DURING EACH STAGE OF CHANGE.

Pre-contemplation - Sermons, Classes, and Imparting Faith Book
Contemplation - Sermons, Classes, Parent Discussion Groups, and Imparting Faith Book
Preparation - Parent Discussion Groups, Simulation Groups, Imparting Faith Book
Action - Simulation Groups, (Ultimately the family must initiate action, but your church can help them take the first step in the process through a simulation)
Maintenance - Follow up discussion groups 6 months after initiation, announcements, emails, handouts, web links, and references to Imparting Faith sermon and class discussions


DISCUSSION GROUPS

Discussion groups provide an opportunity to address a smaller crowd and provide a natural opportunity to accomplish 5 things. 

 (1) Show families what passing down their faith looks like among families with children of different ages and circumstances.
 (2) Relieve anxiety and worry about doing faith activities in their homes.
 (3) Explain how making a decision to become more intentional about imparting faith will change the spiritual growth of their children. 
 (4) Introduce parents to other church members who will help them through this change.  
(5) Identify challenges in passing down faith to specific age


SIMULATIONS

The purpose of the simulations is to:

(1) Provide families an opportunity to make a commitment to imparting faith to their children. 
(2) Provide an opportunity for families to act immediately on their commitment to intentionally passing down their faith with other parents nearby.
(3) Enhance parents’ confidence in their ability to do faith activities regularly within their children.


REMINDERS

Announcements, emails, handouts, web links, and sermon references provide simple reminders to families who may have good intentions, but who have not actually started doing faith activities with their children.  This will be a key in helping families maintain their focus on growing their children to be faithful believers.

CREATING A CULTURE

The goal of the church should be to create a culture where parents naturally pass down faith. When you help families through the stages of change with these resources it is no longer just a good idea, but it is something practical that everyone can do.  With all of these methods of communication, sermons become more motivational, and supplement the Imparting Faith Blueprint rather than being the crux of the communication process.  When communicated in this way, faith transmission becomes a part of the culture of the church.  It is when your church has created this type of culture that you will see the majority of families become serious about passing down their faith and ensuring that their children will remain faithful when they are grown.