School holidays are finished and we are headlong into a new year. By now you are probably well on your way to thinking about what you want to do with your Children’s and Family ministry (CFM). As you prepare it might be good to time to review where you are at.
It is interesting at the moment within CFM that there seems to be a couple of significant camps. Those who love Sundays Schools and Kid’s programs and take kids out of Church to help them connect in with God; those who believe Children should stay in Church so that they can learn and become endeared to worship; then those again who think that worship should be designed for everyone including kids to participate.
When we asked 150 kids from with the Uniting Church what they loved about Church the majority answered that they loved time with their friends learning about God, that they loved singing in Church, and being with their families and learning about Jesus. If you need some resources to explore for Sunday School or Kids program check out the list we put together. It represents some of the best ones we have heard about–let us know if you have found any good ones too!
Every church is different. Some Churches are blessed with amazing people who know how to teach children about God. Some churches make space for kids and find activities they can do while they stay in worship. Other offer creative and engaging ways for everyone to engage in worship. Each of them bless Children in different ways, and each have their strengths and weaknesses. It isn’t so much what you do – what really matters is how you treat kids.
Recent research suggests that one of the most important parts of children feeling connected to Church is how they are loved by the adults there. Are they respected, recognised and valued? Regardless of how you “do” ministry with children as a congregation it’s the whole church living out our baptismal vows that truly connects children to God.
With God’s help,
we will live out our baptism
as a loving community in Christ:
nurturing one another in faith,
upholding one another in prayer,
and encouraging one another in service,
until Christ comes.
What if we were to take seriously loving Children for exactly who they are? Strengths and weakness, helping them to grow, sharing our stories of faith with them, praying for and with them and helping them to seriously use their gifts as part of the community – all these things make a difference in the life of our kids
This means telling my seriously disabled friend who is a child how much his facebook messages encourage me when he sends them through. Or appreciating that some kids have a lot of energy and would love to have someone throw the ball for them (other than their parents). It means saying hello to shy kids and that you are glad they are here but expecting nothing from them in return. Praying for our children – every one of them by name. Praying for their parents as they make decisions that will effect their lives, whether they are big or small. Telling them how grateful you are that they are a part of the Church community, and asking kids their opinions about issues you are discussing in the Church or about faith.
So no matter how you do your children’s ministry – and it is great that you are – I hope and pray that you are also able to BE your children’s ministry as well.
Karen Mitchell-Lambert is ordained in the ministry of Deacon and is the team leader of PULSE.