I do not get excited about church business meetings. I’ve even arranged my next sabbatical, rather like my last one, so that I miss two Synods. God so loved the world that he didn’t send a committee, etc. – that’s my feeling.

But last night I had an encouraging Church Council. We’ve recently had a review of our circuit and all its churches by a small team from our District. I hadn’t expected much from the process. Oh me of little faith, as it turned out.

So our main business yesterday evening was to discuss five recommendations the District team had made for this particular church. They weren’t all appropriate to us, because in some cases the team didn’t have exhaustive information on the church, and their Maths became the ‘two plus two is five’ variety. In other areas, their recommendations needed filing away until a later date.

But … what excited me was the way we riffed on one theme and created something new. We began from talking about how we might have more contact with those who hire our premises, but we got onto the question of children. We have several different ways of connecting with children – Sunday School, Messy Church, Craft Club, Holiday Club, Boys’ Brigade, school assemblies. But we realised that just putting on something for children is aiming at a soft target. (Sorry, that’s a lousy metaphor, but it’s the best I can think of.) However, if we are to be truly family friendly we need to offer resources and outreach for all generations.

So the Council grabbed an idea I’d first floated rather quickly a couple of years ago. We need to operate things like parenting courses to the local community, and do so on neutral territory such as the community centre or a pub function room. In fact, they developed the idea further: not just parenting, but marriage courses and bereavement sessions. We thought we might be able to offer one of these courses a year. It doesn’t matter that we’re a small church: we can work with those whom God has given us, as opposed to pining for those we don’t have.

Hence, I’d be interested if anyone reading this blog has positive or negative experience of particular resources or courses. A quick surf has found the following:

Parenting The Parentalk Parenting course; 21st Century Parent from CARE for the Family; a course from the Family Caring Trust.

Marriage The Marriage Course and The Marriage Preparation Course from Holy Trinity Brompton; 21st Century Marriage from CARE for the Family.

Bereavement Harder to track down Christian courses. The only one I found with a Christian basis was one run at Holy Trinity Brompton, The Bereavement Course, but it isn’t a package you can buy and run yourself. It’s just something they run at HTB.

These are just my initial quick trawl. I’d be delighted to hear whatever comments you have about positive or negative experiences or impressions of different courses

UPDATE, SUNDAY 19TH OCTOBER: I also put this request on the Family Friendly Churches’ Trust email discussion group. Two people have spoken highly of the CARE for the Family courses, and mentioned one or two others of theirs about which I didn’t know. One person has suggested debt counselling or money management courses. I have heard good things about Christians Against Poverty’s CAP Money Course.


  1. yes Dave… to my ears!!!!….there is such a need for parenting courses…….i have been trying to access such a group for months through my health visitor but to no avail….fortunately the school is helping me out with some support…..i did a parenting course a few years ago and it was really useful……i am not a bad parent…i just want to be even better.
    i also think other courses like bereavement and marriage are needed…..having sought help for some difficulties in my life…i know that there isnt much out there…and what there is is often expensive.
    Hope i havent waffled….you know i like a chat!!!!
    Glad it was a productive meeting.
    Hope your mum’s results come through ok tomorrow.
    take good care


  2. Hi Paula,

    Thanks for such a positive response and so quickly! My only fear has been the way the courts now use parenting courses as a sentence for parents of tearaways: I hope that hasn’t tainted these courses in some people’s minds.

    As to the cost, my understanding of the discussion last night is that the church would stand all or most of the cost, as this will be an outreach.

    Will let you know about Mum – they are now talking about discharging her at the end of the week. It’s a real possibility that the lesion on her lung was just a medical anomaly, with no obvious explanation, but we’ll see.


  3. i attended a positive parenting course when liam was about 4….at central clinic in town…..all the mums on the course were there by choice… was a way to enhance communication with our children. none of us felt that we were bad fact it was made quite clear that we were good parents because we had chosen to come on course…….The course was advertised at gp surgery etc and was open to all….no pressure… was in fact oversubscribed… may depend on the way it is advertised…just a thought…i’m no expert!

    sounds really hopeful about your mum…hope she gets home soon.


  4. Sounds great. I’m sure you’re right about the manner of advertising. One thing I’d like us to get across is that this wouldn’t be about us in the church thinking we’ve got it all together on this subject, but that we need help just as much as anybody else. We would be learners alongside everyone, rather than coming with a smug superiority complex.


  5. David, this is great news! I always enjoy coming home from meetings where I didn’t expect to be blessed!

    We are looking to do something similar. In talking to one mother who attends my church, she mentioned that what she had been wishing for is for something that targets parents of teenagers (her youngest has just finished high school). She said not only do parents stress over raising teenagers, but after the kids reach a certain age, parents no longer get together. Everything is geared toward young children (mum-n-tots groups, etc) where parents get together and swap stories, but not parents of teenagers. I hadn’t really thought about that, but it’s very true from the two or three other mums that chimed in when they heard what we were talking about.


  6. Here at Meadgate we run the HTB Marriage Course. Ask your friend our vicar about it – he runs it, but as a single man I am not allowed to attend! In fact he starts the first session of a new course tomorrow (17th).


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