First Thousand Days friendly churches
For children to thrive, they must be in a caring family. And for families to responsively care for their children, they need a supportive community.
The Church is well-positioned, more so than any other institution, to be that community. Churches can use what they are already doing to become First Thousand Day-friendly (FTD-friendly), creating the environment in which loving connections are formed.
First Thousand Day-Friendly churches are local church communities that are actively caring for families that are expecting children, or have children in their first two years of life. They are seeking out these families to see that they get more of the kind of care they need in that season. These churches are not perfect and don’t ‘have it all together’, but are putting things in place to see families woven into their church community.
FTD-friendly churches are not child-centred churches. Instead, they have committed themselves to reach out to families, to draw them in and include them in their church practices. Rather than drifting out of church community during this period and finding themselves being isolated, families find themselves in communities of support. They are churches who are doing what they can with what they have to give children a strong start to life.
Sikunye has identified six different areas of church life that can be used to support, strengthen and encourage families. These six elements are not stages, or steps. In Sikunye’s How to be FTD-friendly workshops we facilitate a journey with leaders to discern their best next step.
To enable loving connections, we need to…
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Create welcoming spaces
Use your space to create a welcoming, safe environment for families.
Is the space you are meeting in a place that moms, dads and children love to come to each week? Discover how you can use your space to create an environment that fosters a sense of care and belonging.
Speak up in your church and networks to spread the big idea.
Churches have trusted voices in communities. You can use your existing moments of preaching and teaching to share the opportunity of the First Thousand Days. Whether in public, in private, on social media, or in networking moments, discover how you can spread awareness.
Show intentional care for families in this unique stage of life.
Through the existing resources in your congregation, targeted and specific care can be given to families in this demanding season of life. The church can be the modern-day village, providing the support and encouragement that no other service provider can.
Collaborate and Refer
Partner with service providers and other churches.
As important as the church is in serving families in the FTD, they cannot be and do everything. Your church exists in a community that may have a range of services and resources to strengthen families. Find out how you can use your presence to collaborate with others.
Equip and Prepare
Offer directed and intentional training and preparation for parents and caregivers.
You can put formal and informal training and mentoring moments in place to deploy your faith community to serve families. Explore ways that you can do this.
Use the power of prayer to bless families.
Prayer is powerful means to bless and encourage families. It also changes the hearts of the people praying. Find out how to use this gift in your church to care for families and disciple congregants.