Faith Forward will teach congregations, parents, and grandparents to tell the Biblical and family stories of God’s mercy, grace, love, boundaries, protection, promises, and faithfulness. As parenting trends and church attendance change in a post-pandemic world, this program has been designed to help pastors, parents, and grandparents pass on their Christian faith to the next generation. A paradigm shift to a home-centered faith formation requires trusted partners, a strong foundation of relationships and accountability, and an openness to God’s Spirit as it moves in new directions. Faith Forward wants to see parents and grandparents share the faith and values with the church’s treasure and future, our children and youth.

Faith Forward has a three-fold aim:

  1. EMPOWER rural and small congregations to more effectively work with parents, grandparents, and faith mentors through the normal routines of congregational life to help them hand down their Christian faith and values to the next generation.
  2. EQUIP parents and grandparents with doable, repeatable, livable faith practices.
  3. ENCOURAGE parents and grandparents in creating homegrown faith through easy-to-use activities and resources which weave faith formation into the normal routines of family life.

Faith Forward is funded by the Christian Parenting and Caregiving Initiative of the Lilly Endowment Inc. housed at Grand View University, and works in collaboration with Peer Ministry.

We are accepting applications for our 2025-2026 Faith Forward Cohort. The kickoff event is May 19-20 at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa.

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What to Expect as a Part of Faith Forward

Faith Forward begins with an in-person event designed to engage, equip, and encourage rural pastors so they can recruit and connect parents, grandparents, and caregivers.

Faith Forward will equip caregivers with strategies that model faith to children through daily practices, incorporating social learning into faith formation. We will use The Five Faith Promises developed by Peer Ministry Leadership as an overarching framework for providing caregivers with effective strategies to share and practice the ways of faith. Caregivers will be asked to commit to these promises and will receive resources to help them carryout their commitment within their family routines. The Promises include:

  1. Prayer: We promise to pray together every day.
  2. Bible reading: We promise to read the Bible together regularly.
  3. Faith conversations: We promise to talk together often about Jesus and our faith.
  4. Acts of service: We promise to perform acts of service together in our community, our congregation, and our home.
  5. Shared mealtimes: We promise to share five or more meals together each week, and to engage in other rituals and traditions together.
Faith Forward Goals

Goal: Provide 100 leaders of rural and small congregations (20 per year) with the education, resources, and support they need to empower caregivers to pass faith forward.

Activity: Begin each cohort’s experience with an in-person meeting to build relationships and familiarize them with the Faith Forward framework.

GV will host a kickoff event at the beginning of each cohort. Pastors will explore strategies for helping parents, grandparents, and faith mentors (volunteers) realistically hand down their faith within the normal routines of family life. Through experiential learning and discussions, pastors will learn the Faith Forward framework and how to apply it in their congregations. Pastors will receive faith formation activities that they can ask their congregations (parents, grandparents, and faith mentors) to practice in a variety of contexts at church and at home.

Activity: At the kickoff event, provide two unique Starter Kits, one for parents and one for grandparents, to the 20 congregations.

Starter Kits promote faith formation practices and provide activities for parents and grandparents to engage in with their children. These fun, creative resources help families participate in faith-filled activities while doing everyday life (like eating dinner or riding in the car). During the kickoff, pastors will practice using at least two activities from each starter kit and brainstorm the best strategies to engage and motivate parents and grandparents in their congregations.

Goal: Provide continuing access to support and resources through online opportunities.

Activity 2.1: Coaches will provide two virtual coaching sessions with each pastor to customize strategies for the families in their congregations.

During these coaching sessions, pastors will receive follow up and encouragement to choose strategies and activities that work best for their church. Additional sessions can be scheduled as needed for support. The following are examples of strategies that can be adapted to fit each church.

  • 10-15-minute programs to learn and practice after church or between church services.
  • Narthex tables with youth handing out, demonstrating and involving families in a Faith Forward faith formation activity.
  • Video trainings created by young people.
  • At-home visits, participating together in activity and leaving resource kits.
  • Family festivities with built-in practice times.
  • Using Pre-School, Sunday School, Confirmation, and Youth Groups to host occasional family gatherings to learn hands-on faith experiences.
  • Host a Faith Forward Families group meeting twice a month for family groups to learn and practice faith and life activities.

Activity: Pastors will plan kickoff events and create implementation plans for their congregations using the strategies they selected during the virtual coaching calls.

With help from their cohort and coach, pastors will plan kick off events and create implementation plans. As part of the implementation plan, pastors will each receive a $500 mini-grant to carry out the kickoff events and implementation plan.

Activity: Faith Forward coaches will lead quarterly virtual cohort meetings.

Virtual check-ins allow pastors to celebrate successes, help each other adjust strategies, develop next steps, and stop or reevaluate strategies that are not working. Working as a team will provide cohort members with ongoing support and encouragement.

Goal: Each grant year, equip 20 parents, grandparents, and faith mentors across the 20 congregations with parenting faith skills.

Activity: Develop curriculum to be delivered via virtual meetings or workshops.

Each grant year, Faith Forward coaches will develop the parent curriculum based on input from the corresponding pastor cohort. This will ensure parents, grandparents, and faith mentors receive the training and resources that best match their congregations’ strengths and challenges.

Activity: Conduct virtual meetings or workshops using that year’s curriculum.

Faith Forward coaches will help parents explore their central role as their children’s primary faith influencer through experiential and creative virtual experiences. They will learn how to weave faith formation into the normal routines of family life. Parents will practice the Five Faith Promises during the sessions and give feedback to help their peers.