A year ago, Grow Christians barely existed. We published our first post at the end of January, 2016. That post outlined the vision for the blog and, I now realize, expressed some of the loneliness I felt at the time.
I wasn’t raised in a Christian home, but I wanted to create one. As a young mother, I turned to the internet for help. There were plenty of Christian mom blogs, but in those days there was no online hub for Episcopalians to share the ways we practice faith at home. I missed that. I especially missed it during my children’s youngest years, as I read non-denominational and Roman Catholic blogs for help. As I wrote a year ago,
I longed for an unabashedly Episcopalian venue where I could reflect on how to practice my faith at home. I wanted recipes for our liturgical calendar and rhythms that reflected our prayerbook. I wanted stories from other Episcopalians about how they were doing things.
What Bible were they reading with their child? How did they reflect on being a role model for the younger people in their church? How did they talk about faith with their teenager? I wanted a place where Episcopalians could talk to one another — using the internet – about how they practiced their faith day to day. I dreamed of a group blog for Episcopalians to share stories about practicing their faith at home. I longed for real stories from real people.
Now, Grow Christians is trying to be that place.
It dawns on me now that I took for granted the existence of the internet, and its capacity to share these stories. I started reading faith-at-home blogs while I was still a layperson in the Episcopal Church. They were a huge part of my Christian formation – which happened in my home as well as at my church.
What would have happened before the internet? Would I have gone to talk with my priest about how to practice faith at home and received some books to read? Would I have started a small group at our church to share festivals and celebrations with our families?
Or – most likely – would I have never even known a home life reflecting the liturgical year was possible?
The internet exists, so the question is moot. As Richard Rouse wrote in “Technology and a New Reformation,” almost twenty years ago, “just as the printing press was used by the evangelicals (Lutherans) of the 16th century as an effective means of communicating the gospel, so new technology will enable us to reach an even wider audience as well as transform the church of the new millennium.”
Just think – he wrote that in the infancy of the world wide web, before the widespread use of social media had even been imagined. It’s an invitation, but it’s also a challenge.
How might we in the Episcopal Church use the tools of technology to share the gospel and equip disciples for faith? Grow Christians is just one answer to that question. We need many more.
Over the last year, Grow Christians has begun to become that place I imagined. We still have a ways to go, but there is now a place where parents reflect on practicing faith with teenagers and talking about the Bible with kids, as well as celebrating major feasts at home and grappling with faith’s hard questions. What I was longing for now exists.
Our recent reader survey showed us both our strengths and our growing edges.
First, we’re definitely reaching people who are active in raising children…
And our readers are primarily Episcopalians.
Although two-thirds of survey respondents come to read and reflect, one-third of you have tried an activity and/or purchased a resource that you’ve found here.
There were many positive comments about the blog…
I am a relatively new reader, but thus far, I have found the content outstanding and have shared with several members of my parish, in the hopes that they might subscribe.
Continue your amazingly creative suggestions, activities, recipes, etc!
And some requests…
I love anything relating to children and families – more activities, resources like videos and worksheets. I find it more challenging to find Episcopal specific items for use with kids.
Maybe some more advanced planning items. For example – tell me now to be getting stuff ready for Lent 🙂
I am in an interchurch marriage/family. I’d like to hear a little from others who are, and how they manage/celebrate the commonalities and differences.
As we begin to plan for our next chapter, we want to thank you, our readers. It’s because of you that we’ve come this far:
Thank you for reading, marking, inwardly digesting, and for sharing. Thanks to the readers who have also become authors (an option open to anyone).
There is still a long way to go to cultivate a community of Episcopalians practicing faith at home. But we’re well on the way, thanks to you.
We love you, readers! A blessed feast of St. Valentine to you all.
[Image credit: Public Domain via Pixabay.]
What stands out to you about the first year of Grow Christians?
CAROLYN MARKSON says
I love this website and read it nearly everyday, even though our grandchildren are 15-22, I learn about ways in which I might interest them in thinking about faith, how to exhibit my own faith, and how to continue to love them faithfully!! Thanks to each of your writers for interesting, engaging and thoughtful ways in which we might engage our next generation. You all are a blessing!!