I gently explained that, no, God is in fact Jesus’ father. ‘So Mummy,’ began the next question, ‘who is God’s wife?’

As the school holidays kick off, our August issue devotes significant space to engaging children with the love and truth of Christ. New research highlighted in our News Analysis reveals that a child’s spirituality runs far deeper than we might have expected.

One place in which each of us can extend a hand of grace to a little one – and play our part in nurturing that delicate, growing spirituality of a child – is in our local churches. Sam Donoghue writes a thought-provoking piece for us on this. He says that if we want to build a faith in our children strong enough to weather the battering that often comes during the teenage years, we need to shift our approach from one of simplistic education to enabling a child to experience and encounter God. And that means bringing children, along with their noise, mess and sometimes inconvenience, into our midst as worshippers.

This month we also publish Justin Brierley’s interview with HTB’s leader of ten years, Nicky Gumbel, whose mission to see churches planted both across this nation and beyond is already shaping the future of the UK Church for children and adults alike. We highlight the remarkable and rapid growth of the HTB plants in Brighton and Bournemouth, with a plant in Birmingham set to launch in September and a first overseas plant (in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur) also well underway.

As we celebrate the work of many courageous church planters from across the denominational spectrum – and what Nicky describes as something of a ‘hidden revival’ currently taking place in the UK Church – let’s not forget the plight of those across the globe who are facing extreme persecution at the hands of ISIS. I hope that Johnnie Moore’s feature inspires you to pray and speak up against these ongoing atrocities.

My prayer is that this issue will inspire in you fresh hope for our children, for the growth of the UK Church and for the victory of Christ to prevail in the face of oppression.

As Paul writes: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’ (Romans 15:13).

Lucinda van der Hart

Associate editor