Child Friendly Church Award

CHILD FRIENDLY CHURCH AWARD

Jesus said in Matthew 18 v 5-6 that anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.

The Child Friendly Church Award has been developed to help churches give children the best possible experience of church. Children are anyone under 18, although of course we often refer to children over, for example, 13 as young people.

You do not need to have children attending your church to apply for the award – it is about how you would welcome children and their families should they attend. If you take a moment to think about families that are new to the area, and who are searching for a new church to attend, wouldn’t it be wonderful, and encouraging, for them to discover that their local URC has the Child Friendly Church Award?

The URC support the awarding of the Child Friendly Church Award as one way of Evangelism. Feedback from those that have been involved in the process is that it is positive and affirming of the work that churches are already doing, and encourages them to make progress in areas that would improve children’s experience of church.

The process can happen in a variety of ways. Some churches are happy to complete the forms and send them through, and some prefer more support by way of an initial visit, or series of visits, to talk things through. I will do whatever is the most supportive for you. The form can be downloaded here Child Friendly Church Award Form

At some stage I will need to visit your church in order to write the report. I will need to see certain documents and to look around the building. A copy of additional information can be found here, which details the documents that I will need to see, together with supplememtal information Additional information

The final stage is writing the report which I send to you for comments and corrections/additions, before sending it to Church House,  who have the final say as to whether the award is granted.

The whole process can take between 6 months and 2 years, depending upon the stage you are at when you first apply.

The award comes with a dated certificate and a plaque to display, which is generally presented at Synod. It’s a real achievement to obtain this award, and so we do celebrate the giving of the bright shiny plaque and certificate at Synod! The award remains valid for 3 years.

Here are some comments from a Church that succeeded in obtaining the Award in March 2016

Jesus underlined the importance of children. He said: ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them, because God loves them’ Mark 10:14 and ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’ Matthew 18:3. We also know the importance of introducing children to a real and practical Faith. This is a priority not only for the children themselves, but also for the future growth of the church. At Redland Park these priorities are recognised in our vision statement, which concludes ‘here may our children’s children see the beauty of Thy face’.  (written by Basil Sims, who was Redland Park Minister, from 1948-1960).  At Redland Park we sometimes restate this vision as a ‘church for our children’s children.’

We have Junior Church activities appropriate to the age of our young children and people to participate in during church services.  And it is not only our own church’s children. Redland Park is very actively involved in our local primary school. St. John’s, where our minister, Reverend Dougie Burnett, leads assemblies and events.   The school has grown in numbers to the point where they now use Redland Park for assemblies and other activities.  We are currently looking to develop a joint Godly Play project with the school to sit alongside our joint community outreach events and holiday clubs.

The Child Friendly Church Award fits well with our church vision and with good practices which we already had in place. Recent growth in Junior Church numbers has caused us again to look at the place of children in the overall life of the church.  We had to do additional work to receive the Award and Jan Murphy, the Synod Children’s and Youth Development Officer and Safeguarding Officer worked hard with us to develop this. We recognise that the award is not an end in its self but part of a journey. We are delighted to receive the Child Friendly Church Award. (Anne Neugebauer – Children’s work Co-ordinator Redland Park Bristol)

The ReAward process is very similar to the Award process. The criteria need to be met and the various policies and posters need to be in place, and current. When you think about it a lot can change in 3 years so its important to come and see all that you’re doing as a church for the ReAward.

Here are some comments from a church that went through the ReAward process for March 2016

The church was going through the process of applying for the award just as I was arriving at the end of 2010, and they found the process really rewarding.  It helped to focus children’s work as one of the mission priorities of the congregation, and keep it at the forefront of ministry over the ensuing years.  We had the full support of Jan Murphy throughout the process both for the Award and ReAward. Applying for the re-award has been a commitment to children’s work, and an ongoing challenge to keep current with new requirements and developments over the years. I would encourage other churches with either large or small children’s work to consider applying for the award. (Gerald England – Minister Emmanuel Haydon Wick Swindon)

The Child Friendly Church Award scheme (CFCA) has improved our church for everyone – children, young people and adults.  For any church considering the CFCA scheme, I would recommend that you at least complete the questionnaire and share the results of the self-assessment with your church meeting, and with Jan Murphy. It will undoubtedly highlight areas hindering your church as you seek to share the Good News within your community. The scheme requires effort, but Jan Murphy does not assess with a critical eye and then leave, she offers full support, advice, training and encouragement throughout the entire process, until completion. (Lucy Gough – Children’s work co-ordinator Emmanuel Haydon Wick Swindon)

Thank you very much for all that you have done to help us through the process of renewing our CFCA. We have greatly appreciated the help and guidance you have given us with the Safeguarding Training, Interview Training and the training on Autism. Your training sessions are always excellent and you are always willing to give us support despite the distance you have to travel. Thank you! (Ruth Harris Children’s Work Co-ordinator)

Please contact the synod clerk  if you are considering applying for the Award.