Diocese of Portsmouth

    Parents, churches and schools to work together on ‘Chatting Faith’

    Children and Young People
    14 July 2023

    OUR diocese will launch a project this September that aims to encourage parents to talk to their own children about the Christian faith.

    The project, called ‘Chatting Faith’ aims to provide resources to parents to reflect on aspects of the faith their children have found in storybooks they are reading at school.

    It’s part of the national Church of England’s Growing Faith movement, which inspires families, schools and churches to work together to create new young disciples. Our diocese - working alongside Winchester diocese – is one of 12 Learning Hubs for Growing Faith, and this is the project we are trialling on behalf of the national Church. If it’s successful, it will be replicated elsewhere.

    The first group of schools and parishes signed up are:

    • St Jude’s Church Southsea, working with St Jude’s C of E Primary School in Old Portsmouth;
    • North Gosport parish, working alongside Alver Valley Schools in Gosport;
    • Crofton parish in Stubbington, working alongside local schools;
    • St Faith’s Church, Lee-on-the-Solent, working alongside families who take part in their activities;

    There are also three more sets of churches and schools working together in Winchester diocese. In January, another group of parishes and schools will become involved, and then further groups over the next two years.

    Each group will be presented with Chatting Faith bags containing six books, question cards and some goodies. Some schools may run Chatting Faith as an after-school club, others are linking it to an existing church children's group. The resources aim to inspire a natural, user-friendly way to initiate conversations about faith, so the story book Giraffes Can’t Dance might lead to a chat about how God makes us all unique.

    Some of the books used as part of the Chatting Faith project

    Our Growing Faith champion, Jeff Williams, said: “We are aiming to respond to research that says that many families do not find it easy to share effectively the Christian faith with their children and grandchildren.

    “Our project is about ‘normalising’ conversations about God, faith and the Bible, and one aspect of the project is using secular but meaningful story books that already exist in our schools, and offering parents some resources and ideas to reflect on these stories through a Christian lens. We hope that when trialled and refined, many parishes and families will be keen to use this resource, that accompanies books in your local school, and indeed, you may have at home already!”

    Many of our parishes already have good links between their congregations and schools, with teams leading regular collective worship or acting as School Pastors. Many also have good links between the congregations and local families, organising toddler groups, Messy Church, or family fun days that reach out to the local community.

    The idea of Growing Faith is to take that a stage further, with churches, schools and families working collaboratively and intentionally, so that every aspect of mission and ministry is seen through the lens of what that means for children and young people. The investment from the national C of E in the resources to achieve this will be vital in helping to meet its commitment to double the number of young disciples in the Church by 2030.

    Portsmouth and Winchester dioceses have now been selected and resourced, as one of 12 regional Learning Hubs where some of this work will be piloted, from June 2023.

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