Wondering where all the kids went? Read our top tips from local leaders and congregations for creating sustainable ministry with children.
1. Put children’s and family ministry at the centre of your church mission. This means more than just welcoming kids and their parents or carers, but providing opportunities for them to serve and listening to their ideas. It means valuing children’s ministry volunteers and staff, and having a family and kids-friendly minister who shows support by building relationships, turning up to children’s and family events and advocating for children and families in the community.
2. Turn God’s house into a home. Do an audit of your facilities and ensure that spaces are secure and child-friendly so that parents can relax with their family and other adults.
3. Remember that home and family are central to faith formation. Find ways to support parents to live out their faith day-to-day, and remember that our children absorb the values, beliefs and behaviours that we model.
4. Stop trying to entertain kids and start engaging them, especially in terms of worship. If your worship service is too inflexible, formal or just plain boring, most children will escape going to church as soon as they can. If multigenerational worship isn’t for your congregation, consider ways of integrating children and youth into worship on a regular basis.
5. Identify people in the congregation who are passionate about connecting with young people and families, and use that energy to help build and sustain a vision for ministry. Access appropriate training and resources. A focused, confident team is vital for sustainable ministry.
6. Find the model that works best for your congregation (your presbytery minister or project officer can help connect you with people and resources, or contact one of the congregations in our feature article on page 10 to learn more about their program). Once you’ve decided on the model and formed your team, promote the program through community news and social media.
7. Try and keep families together for most of the time. Work, study and sporting commitments mean that many parents and children are separated during the week, so make church a family occasion.
8. Whatever model you choose, integrate the Safe Ministry with Children framework and practices (visit ucaqld.com.au/safe). Look for opportunities to turn training days into inspirational events with other churches.