5 Core Ideas for Children’s Ministry
For church to express the beauty of the Kingdom of God, it needs to be open to all generations, especially children. Here are 5 core ideas at the heart of great children’s ministry:
1. Be present
Be available for children to talk to and to see. Being present shows that you care, that they are valued and it speaks volumes. Give your time in whatever way you can whether that is contributing to the life of your local school, helping with Sunday club or simply talking to children before or after a service.
The team at Lichfield Community Mentoring (http://ift.tt/2dm6Lv6) use the power of being present to support children and young people experiencing difficulties like family break-up or bereavement. Trained volunteers meet mentees in their school on a regular basis, supporting the child through listening to their story.
2. Be flexible
It is so easy to set a rigid agenda and message in our work, but developing our ability and willingness to work flexibly with children’s thoughts, ideas and experiences engages them at a much deeper level. At St. Chad’s, Lichfield, we started a school Eucharist with our local primary school and deliberately built flexibility into the preparation. We have set sessions but choose to leave space for the children’s thoughts and ideas, enabling us to address the questions that really matter to them.
Godly Play is an amazing resource designed around flexibility. The leader shares a story and then leaves space for children to explore the story and it’s meaning by asking ‘I wonder’ questions and affirming the children’s responses, as opposed to delivering a fixed message or outcome. For more information see www.godlyplay.uk.
3. Mark significant events
The church provides many occasions for us to connect with children (harvest, Christmas, Easter) but there are so many events in the calendar that the church can mark or celebrate as a great way of engaging with children! When we mark the significant events in the lives of children they feel precious and we provide a space to explore and acknowledge their feelings and experiences. It is powerful to share the message that God cares about our lives in this way.
At St Chad’s we put on Reception Class Services for local schools. Schools bring their newest pupils along with parents for a simple service marking their going to school for the first time. We learn a simple song together, have an interactive Bible story, some prayers and a blessing over their school lives. It is a great way of connecting with schools, meeting parents and placing an important time before God.
There are loads of resources to help with marking other occasions as well including:
- It’s Your Move- a Scripture Union resource for children moving from primary to secondary school. http://ift.tt/2cU1W9M
- Back to School with God- resources to help you create a special service to mark staff and pupils beginning a new academic year. http://ift.tt/2dm6eto
- Prayer spaces in schools- lots of resources for you to look at creating a prayer space in your local school which can mark special occasions or times of year, such as the lead up to exams or SATs. http://ift.tt/2cU1J6j
4. Take risks
Take a chance on inviting the children to participate! You’d be surprised what can happen when you ask for a child to pray at the end of an assembly instead of you, or let them lead a session of Sunday school. It is empowering for the child and a rich blessing for you to watch as they flourish. So think about your context and consider what you could get the children more involved in. Be bold, be brave and trust God to use the younger members of our communities for his glory.
5. Don’t feel pressured into entertaining!
It is easy for the church to feel that we need to keep children entertained in order for them to hear about Jesus: I know children who don’t have any quiet in their lives because there is TV or music playing constantly, with smartphones, laptops and tablets available for any . But Jesus is attractive and we don’t need to entertain in order for people to be open to him. Some of the most amazing assemblies I have been part of have given children the opportunity for 10 minutes of silent meditation.
A helpful website for more information about meditation with children is http://ift.tt/2dm62Ky
So, what now?
So, have a go! Remember: children tend to be very forgiving and will just love having you around so don’t be afraid to be present, be flexible, celebrate with them, take risks and don’t feel pressured to entertain. See what amazing things God can do through you!
- Children’s Ministry in the Way of Jesus by David Csinos and Ivy Beckwith
- Bake.Read invites local churches to pray for their schools, bake for them and offer their time to go in and read with the children. Just search Pray.Bake.Read on Facebook.
Lizzy Holland is the Children’s & Families Worker at St. Chad’s, Lichfield and an ordinand training with St. Mellitus College. She is married to Mitch and drives a sports car.