Becoming a First Thousand Day friendly church is made up of small steps, all taking you and your church community closer to being that community that cares for, strengthens and supports families with children in the First Thousand Days. This is a step-by-step guide to help you take another step on your journey.
- Increase your awareness and conviction of this topic
- See families around you who are in the FTD
- Appoint Sikunye champions
- Prayerfully discern how your church can be FTD-friendly
- Put a plan together
- Integrate FTD into the whole life of the church
- Mobilise congregants to specific actions
- Do, review and learn
- Explore how you can reach out to families in your broader community
We have designed this 9-step guide, also known as your Activation Kit, to help you get going. Our hope is that this helps to focus your interest and time into a process that will help make your congregation a place where young children are thriving and reaching their God-given potential.
You can access all of these resources, but encourage you to activate your church, so that you can access training and be notified of upcoming events.
Sikunye, we are together
Increase your awareness and conviction of this topic
There is an explosion of research into the First Thousand Days. Grow your understanding and conviction of the role of your church in this phase of life. Read, listen, talk to others and see God’s heart for children in the Bible.
See families around you who are in the FTD
Who in your church community is in the once-in-a-lifetime season of the FTD? What are their experiences? What are their dreams, their hopes, their joys and frustrations? As you have grown your understanding and conviction of the role of the church, we encourage you to notice, to listen and learn from families around you?
Appoint Sikunye Champions
Church life is busy. We know you, as a pastor, are carrying many different ministries and people. To ensure your FTD plans are sustainable, we encourage you to recruit passionate people from within your church to drive conversations and opportunities. They can support, lead and draw a team around themselves to see your plans come to fruition. Who is the point leader you can work with to support, lead and hold accountable for plans into the future?
Prayerfully discern how your church can be FTD-friendly
Your church is located in a context, with unique strengths and opportunities. Becoming FTD-friendly will have different expressions in different churches. This step is all about prayerfully discerning, along with others in your church, what you can be and do to ensure loving connections are formed around families in your church.
We believe that God has gifted every church congregation with a range of spiritual gifts, empowering his body to further His mission. Instead of looking at what you don’t have, or wish you had, consider who is already in your congregation that can be brought in.
As you pray with your leaders, your Sikunye Champions and others, what do you sense God leading you into? Pray through the six ways a church can be FTD-friendly, with your congregation and context in mind. This isn’t about copying other churches, but growing your sense that you are putting your best efforts into what God is lead you to.
Put a plan together
Many good intentions stay just that: intentions. By putting a plan together, you are outlining your next steps and what you are committing to as a church to become FTD-friendly. Planning with your champion ensures ownership and a shared sense of what is possible. Ideally you can attend a Sikunye Champions’ Planning Workshop. If that is not possible, use the template provided.
Integrate into the whole life of the church
As you lead your congregation towards becoming FTD-friendly, look for ways to ensure that it is integrated into all elements of the church. Take care that the heart for this is not held by a small group of committed individuals. Use the platforms you have already to call the whole congregation towards loving connections with those in the FTD of life.
Mobilise congregants to specific actions
Even as the whole congregation is called towards surrounding, supporting and encouraging families in the FTD of life, there are ways individuals can serve in more specific ways. Grow your team of volunteers and utilize their pre-existing skills or connect them to Sikunye training opportunities or local service provider.
Do, review and learn
As you and your Sikunye Champs continue to grow your congregation in being FTD-friendly, you will find things that work, things that have stalled and things that haven’t moved forward at all. This step is all about learning from your experiences, asking good questions and adjusting your plan to keep moving forward. You may need to return to a few of the above steps along the way.
Keep coming back to the Sikunye website to find new resources, get inspired by stories and share with others what has been happening in your spaces. We want you to be part of a network of churches, together creating modern-day villages around families. If you have activated your church , then you will get regular mailers – look out for them and the upcoming events to stay up to speed.
Explore how you can reach out to families in your broader community
As you serve families in your congregation, you can explore how to reach families in the broader community. In your community will be service providers for families and you can explore what a partnership looks like. In this way, families have a range of support and input for their growth and nurturing.
These 9 steps to help your church become FTD-friendly exist to guide you, not instruct you. We trust they will help you in your journey. Stay in touch, share feedback and spread The Big Idea. We are in this together.