Helping Fathers in the Heartland: Coming to Your Church

Many people involved with Good Dads from the beginning did so out of a deep conviction directly connected with their faith and core values. They also believed it was important that Good Dads go well beyond the confines of any faith community. Because they believed fatherhood development is important for all dads, they wanted Good Dads to be open and accessible to all kinds of fathers. 

For this reason, Good Dads insists it is for all dads. This includes new dads, over-the-road dads, single parent dads, divorced dads, Christian dads, Jewish dads, agnostic dads, traditional dads, unconventional dads, granddads, and father-figure dads. 

Faith-Friendly vs. Faith-Based

Good Dads believes that faith and spirituality are important aspects of health and wellness, but not every dad has the same ideas and beliefs. For this reason, Good Dads utilizes a faith-friendly, rather than faith-based approach in an effort to reach all dads. “Faith friendly” means that Good Dads recognizes and acknowledges the contributions of the faith community to healthy homes and families, but does not promote a particular religious group or connection. From time to time, they do make their followers aware of a resource that may be “faith-based,” e.g. a conference or activity, but always identify it as such.

Important Resource to Churches

The essence of religious life, as we understand it, includes the value of fathers to their children. As such, many faith communities seek to strengthen men, and especially fathers, in their role. Good Dads offers assistance in doing this. Individual groups and faith communities are free to include their own faith-based material along with the research-based content we offer, unless they are part of a state- or federally-funded project. (In those instances, the government requirement separating church and state must be followed.) 

Good Dads emphasis on helping “at-risk fathers” and supporting “strong schools” fits well with the goal many faith communities have to impact their communities in positive ways. Good Dad father-child activities offer helpful templates for constructing engaging experiences for dads and kids that can also be accompanied with faith-based resources.

Good Dads understands a local faith community can be an excellent source of excitement and support when it comes to getting a local fatherhood group started and encouraging participation. Those interested in reaching fathers may find faith-based groups and community groups of many kinds interested in participating and partnering with a Good Dads program. Some of those partnerships may include the following groups: 

  • Drug and Alcohol Residential Treatment Programs (often faith-based)
  • Attorneys and Child Support Offices
  • Social Services

Questions to Consider

Here are some questions to consider when it comes to starting a Good Dads program in partnership with a local faith community:

  • Is your group/organization faith-based, faith-friendly, or something else?
  • How will your identity, as described above, influence and potentially impact your work with fathers in the community? 

Good Dads has forged a relationship with a numbers of community groups who have agreed to serve as a recruitment and referral source for various programs. As you consider your unique community make up, think about the organizations that may be interested in serving in different types of partnerships. You may want community partners to fill roles in these areas:

  1. Community Partnerships – for recruitment and promotion
  2. Facilitators – trained to teach Good Dads curriculum
  3. Coordinators – providing management and overseeing curriculum implementation
  4. Leadership – serving to help give structure and guidance to your Good Dads program

Every Good Dads program looks a little different and has their own “flavor” while following the overarching Good Dads mission and values. What will your Good Dads program look like? What role will the faith community having in helping to make it a success? 

For more information on how you can get a Good Dads program started in your community, let us know by going to www.gooddads.com and filling out our Helping Fathers in the Heartland interest form. 

About Author

Dr. Jennifer Baker is the Founder & Executive Director of Good Dads. She can be reached for question or comment at jennifer@gooddads.com. You may also call the Good Dads office at (417) 501-8867.