Group Publishing has announced a brand new product for the Fall of 2010. The Faithweaver Parent Class is designed to coordinate with the regular line of Faithweaver age-graded curriculum. Identical in scope and sequence, it approaches the material from a parental perspective, mentoring parents to disciple their children using the material learned during Sunday school or small group.
I received a free sample lesson from Side Door Communications, a company which has partnered with Group to generate interest in this resource. As always, this review is purely my opinion.
Having used the Faithweaver line in my church for the past couple of years, I have quickly learned that although the children and their teachers consistently enjoy the experiences it offers, it is far more difficult to garner the interest of the majority of parents. I use the Family Connect CD to inform the few parents who opt in about what their children are learning, but most parents do not take an interest in that opportunity. So, it has created a quandry for me. How do I encourage parents to become aware of what their children are learning in Sunday school, and how do I equip them to help their children apply that learning on a daily basis? My church has tried a few approaches, including a 13-week sermon series which used Faithweaver as its scope and sequence, and of course the Family Connect PDF. It met with limited success.
What to do? Throw my hands up in the air and forget about the parents? Of course not. Be rude by throwing a fit, insisting that they use the Family Connect resource? Obviously that would not be a helpful or effective approach. Neither of those approaches even crossed my mind until I wrote them here. There has to be a better way.
Perhaps the Faithweaver Parent Class is a viable option. I honestly do not know if it will be doable in my church, but I am going to explore the possibility. Consider the strengths of the resource:
1. It follows along with what the children are learning weekly.
2. It is specifically designed to equip parents in their parental task.
3. It follows Group’s REAL philosophy of education. Therefore, it will not be a boring lecture; learners will be actively engaged throughout the lesson, applying material to their own families. Additionally, they will not remain sitting throughout each session, passively taking notes or listening. They will be required to get out of their chairs, interact with other people, and have unexpected, often hilarious experiences. This is not a class for the dedicated wallflower, although it wouldn’t hurt that person to try it out in order to break out of the relational shell.
4. It is appropriate for single-parent families as well as two-parent families. I perceive no problems having a general parenting class which blends various parent and family configurations, such as single-parents, divorce, adoption, foster, grandparent as guardian, etc.
5. It gives practical, tangible action steps to apply in the home. These are adaptable for any home situation. For example, in the sample lesson I read, they use the acronym E-I-E-I-O: “Empathize with your child”; “Invite conversation with your child”; “Encourage your child with the understanding that what he or she is facing is normal”; “Instill hope”; “Offer your support.” Based on my years of experience with parents, this tool can be a game-changer in homes which apply it consistently. Too often parents (not all parents, but far too many) resort to default selfish behaviors and destructive sarcasm, rather than to proactive love which builds up their children. To be fair, I also recognize my own carnal tendency to be selfish and sarcastic.
Certain folks might perceive some weaknesses in the Faithweaver Parent class as well. For example, although the material is biblically-based, and although it asks participants to open their Bibles, read the text, and apply it through interesting relational activities, the Faithweaver Parent class should not to be confused with an in-depth inductive Bible study. That is not its intent. It is important to understand that point from the outset or it could lead to frustration for those who hope to experience an exegesis of a Bible passage on a weekly basis.
A second potential downside specifically in my church is that we have sermon-based small groups. So, the majority of people in our congregation are discussing in small home groups during the week what they are experiencing on Sunday morning. Starting a Faithweaver Parent class on a Sunday weekly basis could become overwhelming for some participants since the material does not coincide with the sermon series being taught in adult worship or small groups. It is an issue I would need to explore with other leaders in my faith community.
Conclusion: I recommend any church which uses Faithweaver curriculum to consider offering the Faithweaver Parent Class. It could be just the game changer your faith community needs to impact families outside the walls of the church building.