In my early 20s, I was very involved in children’s work in my local church. I thought I knew exactly what needed to be done to help children thrive in their faith. Each Sunday morning, I would have as much fun as possible with the kids whilst weaving in the things of God to pass on as much about the Christian faith as I could in that hour-long session each week.

The kids would go home beaming and week by week they would be grasping the stories from the Gospels. Numbers were up and everyone was pleased that the children’s work was flourishing.

However, since having children of my own, my understanding of the role of the local church has been dramatically changed. The sobering statistic is that only half of children who grow up in Christian families will still have a faith by the age of 18.

Today, I am still involved in local church children’s work, but my approach has profoundly shifted. I’ve come to realise how children are being shaped and formed throughout the week, in the school playground and by the screens they are watching. When I was younger, my approach was all about an hour-long club on a Sunday morning. That hour-long Sunday school club can be very powerful but there’s more we can do.

Taking a step back, an average five-year-old might old spend 77 hours a week sleeping, a chunk of time at school and at other clubs. That hour a week at church, presuming they come every week, is minuscule in comparison. But what’s interesting is that a five-year-old is likely to spend a whopping 30 hours a week at home with their parents or carers. Therefore they are the biggest influence on the child’s life.

And so I have stopped thinking it’s all about that one hour on a Sunday. If we are trying to help a child grasp what the Christian life is all about in an hour in a church hall, it is near impossible. The Christian faith is not just about truths we learn in a classroom setting but about how we live life well, following Jesus.

One of the most helpful sections of Scripture is a couple of verses that turns up three times in Deuteronomy.

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19)

Moses command the people of Israel to pass on the truths of God. But this commission isn’t specific to the priests, the professionals and the keen volunteers but to everyone; and it happens not just at special meetings but in the everyday of life.

Over the last few years, in my work with the Kitchen Table Project, we have been thinking through how we empower and encourage parents and carers to share about the Christian faith in those 30 hours a week.

We have come to realise that we need to in part re-think how we approach children’s work as local churches. The danger is that we give off the notion that the local church will disciple your kids for you. Instead we need to look for a much more holistic approach, which is about the clubs we run but also about the way we empower parents and carers for the rest of the week, and ultimately how the whole church gets to be involved.

• Andy Frost is the director of Share Jesus International and works alongside Care for the Family on the Kitchen Table Project, helping parents and carers nurture faith in the home. He is the presenter of the new resource, Children’s Faith: A Whole Church Approach to Family Ministry which is available from