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West Virginia Church Puts Children And Parents Together

by: Stafford North | January 26, 2012

The 300-member 36th Street Church of Christ in Vienna, West Virginia, makes a special effort to build a program that integrates children and parents together as the young people grow up in their congregation. The church has a minister, Mark Mason, and an associate minister, Chris Mullins, but neither is considered the youth minister.

The plan puts heavy responsibility on the parents of children at various age levels and the plan starts with their pre-school classes and works its way through high school. As a child starts in pre-school, he/she becomes part of a youth group, typically a three-grade cluster. The children and their parents from these connected grades work together. The parents of these children take the responsibility for developing the full package of activities for their group. Thus, the children in a three-grade cluster meet together for their Bible classes so they develop a strong bond with each other. Their parents plan activities for these children which give an opportunity for the children to have additional experiences together and, since the parents participate in these activities, they are bonding with parents as well.

As this group works its way through the grades, they stay together. Eventually, they will be the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade group, and even into high school, they still remain as a set and their parents still work with them both in classes and in activities.

The philosophy behind this plan is that once the younger children have made their ties with each other and with their parents, they will find their closest friends among the church group and this will keep them closer to the church. With their parents involved with them all the way through, more things become family oriented and that keeps them united with parents and church as well.

One of the elders oversees this program, but strong emphasis is placed on parents, both to train their children in the home and to develop their classes and activities. The plan, of course, requires some parents who will step up to the plate and take responsibility. Mark Mason says that to this point they have had parents who were willing to do that.

The plan which this West Virginia church has developed fits well with the new developing strategy among church youth leaders. There is strong evidence that children are more likely to stay faithful to the church after they leave home if their family has worked together in spiritual matters rather than having had the church do its work with youth in isolation from parents and other church members.

For more information on this program, contact Mark Mason at