As the Easter season began, Grow Christians opened a survey and offered a giveaway. We wanted to hear from you about what you like, what you want, and how to go forward in the second phase of our pilot.
We were delighted to receive 130 survey responses! And we are happy to announce that the giveaway winner is Carolyn Markson. Congratulations, Carolyn!
As someone who dreamed about a site like this for years before Grow Christians began, it was so heartening to read the survey responses. Here are some highlights from your responses and my takeaways for our near future:
You appreciate a site focused on families practicing faith at home
I grew up in a Baptist church and didn’t follow the Christian calendar. After I married, my husband and I talked about how the Christian seasons weren’t really explained to us as youngsters and that we wanted to make sure our children grew up practicing with our family but we really weren’t sure how to accomplish this. We have four children under 5 years old and until I came across your blog and received emails, the question of “how” to do this with children remained. Thank you!
I really like the fresh, positive and ‘simple’ yet very meaningful thoughts and practices for young families.
We have been looking for ways to empower parents to be personally engaged in their children’s formation and to encourage conversations around issues of faith in the home. These posts have been a great blessing!
A couple people told us that this is the only site in the Episcopal Church sharing stories about practicing faith together in family life and offering practical, accessible resources for parents and other caregivers. We see this as a needed ministry.
The only similar resource that we know is the Home Practices series on Building Faith, which we commend to you. Home Practices offers “how-to-do-it” instructions for practices of Christian faith. Grow Christians offers “how I do it and you might too” stories, which we see as complementary.
The takeaway: we’re going to focus more closely on families practicing faith together in the next phase of the pilot.
Some of you are looking for resources for older adults
Having said that, we also heard and honor a desire for more resources for adults at the older end of the spectrum. If you are looking for resources for the later seasons of life, please follow Virginia Theological Seminary’s Key Hall Online blog, especially the “Older Adults” section. Dorothy Linthicum and others at Virginia Theological Seminary are working to develop just these resources – we don’t want to reinvent the wheel they are building so well.
The takeaway: we’ll continue to include words from grandparents and parents of adults as we consider how different generations practice faith together.
You also offered us some great ideas for improvement!
Maybe more “thematic” entries: I like it when different days of the week have a “theme” or something to help build continuity between entries and weeks.
While I understood the timeliness of having the posts so close to different feast days/observances, I wonder if families might need a little more lead time than a day or two to try different practices or have conversations.
The takeaway: we’ll ponder theme days and give you more lead time for feast day celebrations. There were also a couple requests for better website organization, which we’ve already addressed – how are we doing so far?
And even some very specific requests…
How to form good strong sticky faith habits in the home: regular Bible reading, family prayer, devotions, other activities. Parents in mainline churches really struggle with this since we have no cultural support anymore for faith at home practices (unlike RC families–rosary or Jewish families–Shabbat, or Evangelical–family devotions)
I would be very interested in hearing people who have regular practices of prayer at home with their children of different ages describe those practices and what they are like.
I think that a lot of parents in our parish don’t feel secure around their own faith journey. They feel like they need an “expert” to form their children. I would love to see posts that empower parents to tell their own story to their children.
I would like to see more blogs for adolescents (at an age when they begin to really question their own beliefs and the beliefs of their parents).
Encourage ‘reading the two books’ – the book of the Bible and the Book of Creation/Nature in as many ways as you can!
The goal from the beginning of Grow Christians has been to form a virtual community to support and encourage families to practice faith beyond Sunday worship. There’s a way in which doing so is counter-cultural in a post-Christendom world. Also, because so many Episcopal churches are small, families can feel lonely. But across the whole church there are so many of us! We believe the internet can help equip and encourage discipleship across geography and from one generation to another.
The takeaway: We actually received 113 responses to “What specific topic would you like Grow Christians to address?” I now know how to build my editorial calendar! And we heard from 50+ people who are interested in writing. I’ll be emailing you shortly!
I want to leave you with a story shared in the survey that inspired and challenged me…
One of our moms shared a story with the ministry team this weekend. She said as they were coming to Easter Mass, she asked her 12 and 15 year olds–who had taken part in all Triduum services as well–if they were tired of coming to church and saying grace at meals with their friends there and things like that. She said the 12 year old looked at her with confusion and said, no. Her older boy said, “No…that’s just what we do.” These kids have been raised to see God as part of their everyday lives, as integrated as eating or going to school. Help us provide resources to help more families to raise kids like this, and thank you for all your efforts thus far!
As the mom of an 11 and 14 year old myself, this story hit home. As the editor, I haven’t written about my own efforts and failures to practice faith at home with my family – I’ve been too focused on making sure everyone else’s posts are ready on time. But I’m also a mom of two with stories to share. In the second phase of the pilot, I’ll start writing for Grow Christians also. I’m looking forward to sharing tales from my trenches and reading more of yours.
Let’s grow Christians.
[Photo credit: TriviaKing at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons]
What do you think about the next steps for Grow Christians?