Mustard Seed Family Mentors
Mustard Seed Family Mentors is a pilot to train church staff and volunteers how to reduce child abuse and neglect.
Mustard Seed Family Mentors will be
- a training and certification process for existing staff and volunteers at local Christian congregations.
- targeted to churches who are already doing the work of supporting families, either church members or community outreach.
- six interactive training sessions.
- introducing five key strategies to reduce domestic violence.
- practical activities to certify skills.
Certified Mustard Seed Family Mentors will be church staff and volunteers who can use the mustard seed touch: small changes in how you interact with kids and families that can have a large impact on reducing violence and growing your family programs.
ZERO NEW PROGRAMS!
This is not a new video series, textbook, outreach program, or scripture study. You will continue your current work with better results.
The Mustard Seed Family Mentors process will introduce an approach to serving families that helps them bond more deeply, avoid crisis, or bounce back faster. Consider it like Parenting First Aid. Over 10,000 research studies support that increasing these protective factors will reduce violence and increase wellbeing for the whole family.
It can work for your congregation, too!
Meagen Farrell is a national author and trainer in adult and family education. As former church staff, she had the benefit of training in trauma-informed care and protective factors to strengthen families.
However, she met many well-meaning church folks who just didn't know how best to respond to children and families in crisis. Serving in a church without this knowledge can feel like watching someone have a heart attack without knowing CPR. The Bible doesn't tell us specifically how the Good Samaritan helped the man who had been attacked. It is up to us Good Samaritans to learn the best methods in our time to stop the bleeding and prevent further damage!
Meagen is passionate about equipping staff and volunteers at Christian churches (not denomination-specific) to model and implement research-based best practices to support families. Mustard Seed Family Mentors is her vision to not only strengthen families, but also help churches increase recruitment, retention, and effectiveness of their existing programs for families.
Meagen is developing these training and assessment materials while studying for her PhD in Educational Technology at Kent State University. She plans to complete her courses in 2025 (God willing and the creek don't rise!). Her dissertation (planned for 2025-2026) will investigate in-person, online, and blended learning through the Mustard Seed Family Mentors pilot.
How Can You Get Involved?
Join the email list to receive periodic updates when Meagen develops new training or assessment content to test. You can can also sign up for alerts when Mustard Seed Family Mentors is ready to pilot in your local congregation (dissertation expected to start in 2025).
- Train and certify staff and volunteers of local religious congregations as Mustard Seed Family Mentors
- Family Mentors advance the Kingdom of God by promoting five protective factors to strengthen families (resilience, communication, parenting knowledge, concrete resources, and community relationships)
- Revise participating churches' existing parental recruitment & education materials to use clear language, visuals, and concrete materials
What is in it for local Christian congregations?
- Mustard Seed Family Mentors will aid their hosting organization by maintaining relationships with families, updating contact information, and inviting or retaining families to be active members. They will accomplish this by modeling emotional safety and clear communication.
- Mustard Seed Family Mentor Organizations will become part of an ongoing community of practice with others committed to improving the lives of the “greatest in the Kingdom”: children!
Is Mustard Seed Family Mentors only for Christian congregations?
The ultimate goal of Mustard Seed Family Mentors is for ALL children to experience emotional, spiritual, and social fulfillment... just like we believe God intends, Jesus taught, and the Holy Spirit inspires.
The protective factors to strengthen families are based on a well-developed body of research that has been widely shared in the fields of secular education and social services. Unfortunately, most funding for training on the protective factors intentionally excludes religious organizations or religious content. Thus many religious congregations are unaware of this important research.
Mustard Seed Family Mentors seeks to address this gap by contextualizing this content to Christian churches. Our training will incorporate widely accepted Christian scriptures and examples of local church practices that impact our approach to supporting families. A primary purpose of a local congregation is to build community relationships among members, which is also one of the five protective factors!
Maria Montessori is one inspiration for Mustard Seed Family Mentors. Maria Montessori was a practicing Roman Catholic, and many Montessori schools are also Catholic, but people from different denominations and religions have adapted the Montessori Method to their own contexts.
Non-Christians are welcome to participate in Mustard Seed Family Mentors if they are respectful of its Christian roots and context. In the (translated) words of St Francis of Assisi: "I have done what was mine to do; may Christ teach you what you are to do."