Forming Fathers - Where are the Dads?

Mark Chester is the Dads Development Manager at Care for the Family, a national charity that aims to promote strong family life and to help those who face family difficulties. For more information about Care for the Family, click here.

Have you ever considered how many fathers, compared to mothers, are in your congregation? And how many dads do you reach through your community activities? If the answer to either question is ‘not many’, you are not alone. Many churches struggle to connect with and support fathers and father figures. But it doesn’t have to be like that; a Who Let the Dads Out? group offers churches a tried and tested way to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers (Malachi 4: 6).

The only man in the room

Dave, a dad to three sons, was finding it lonely being one of the only men in the room at parent and toddler groups, and when he heard about Who Let The Dads Out? he jumped at the chance to give it a go. He then joined a parenting programme for dads called Daddy Cool! “It was amazing,” he says. “Everyone seemed interested in each other. They were just ordinary blokes and we were all in the same boat. I enjoyed having a takeaway and talking about home.” He moved on to Soul Man?, a group exploring basic questions of faith and spirituality, and he started to pray with his boys, even before he believed in God. After that came Alpha and gradually his faith grew.

“A presence I couldn’t quite put my finger on”

Another dad, Mark, experienced a similar journey in a Who Let The Dads Out? group at St. Stephen’s in Tonbridge. “I’ve noticed since the first sessions we attended in St. Stephen’s that I’ve always experienced a warm, happy feeling - almost like a presence I couldn’t quite put my finger on.”

After a number of conversations with the group leaders, Mark took part in a men’s Alpha course and found it very powerful. “I started to read the Bible and realised how this could change your life for the better. I was fascinated by the discussions and towards the end of the course opened my heart to Jesus.”

Mark finishes telling his story with these words: “I would like to end by giving praise to Who Let The Dads Out? It was this that got me into a church and started me on the path to faith.”

The nuts and bolts

Who Let The Dads Out? groups give dads the opportunity to spend time with their children in the company of other dads. Many churches start with a monthly Saturday morning play session, similar to a parent and toddler group, and welcome the dads with bacon butties (or suitable alternatives!). Care for the Family, the home of Who Let The Dads Out?, provides a variety of ideas and resources which can be used as follow-ons to your Who Let The Dads Out? sessions.

There are now almost 300 Who Let The Dads Out? groups throughout the UK and beyond. If you would like to find out more about setting up a group at your church visit, or come to our seminars at New Wine, Sligo. We would love to see you there.