There are a number of essential keys for effective ministry with children and families!
This area of MIDST encourages everyone to be even more effective in being a faith community … in ministry and mission with people across ALL the generations in order to make life-long disciples.
Where children are involved, understanding that it takes a village raise children also means that it takes a faith community to make a disciple. The relationships we all need in order to do this as well as we can will require an intergenerational approach … not just generations in the same space … but all generations relating on meaningful levels with one another.
There are at least 5 keys for ministry with children and families
These all help to build on the underlying principle that the role of each of us as individuals and the role of the church/faith community as we live life together is to make life-long disciples … followers of The Lord, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Where children are involved in a household of faith, the primary responsibility of making disciples rightly belongs the the primary care-givers in that household. As we know, families come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes and these households need love, help and support. This is where we understand that help is at hand as ‘Villages raise children & faith communities make disciples.’
- The nurturing, loving environment of the home and the missional, discipling nature of the faith community will need to partner together as they both highly value the following 5 keys for ministry:
- connections with children
- participation with children
- an engagement with children, particularly in the Bible
- a sense of belonging with children
- all means of inviting and recognising the range of faith responses of children
Let’s explore ideas and resources to help apply these keys in ways that the become a part of what we value in ministry.
The value we place in something or someone can be measured by the quality and quantity of time, energy, resources and dollars we spend in relationship with the object or person of value.
Merely to assert we value something or someone does not necessarily mean we do. As a parent, children’s worker or minister, merely to assert we value children or children’s ministry does not necessarily mean we do.
Part of what it means to value children and ministry with children then is to take the time, energy and money to grapple with the complexities of each of these keys. Spend the time, energy and money to foster connections, participation, engagement, belonging and faith responses WITH children
These five keys will help you to be more effective in raising children, making disciples and retaining children as a valuable part of the church.
There are at least two approches to faith formation.
For those who have been drilled with leadership principles, it would follow that as we instill our leaders and parents with values such as authenticity, accountability, excellence, integrity, reliability we do so with an underlying vision of making disciples who make disciples.
Or there is a ministry approach. This section of the MIDST website is written from a ministry perspective using the key five words … connect; participate; engage, belong; respond.
Both persectives are right and can happily coexist in a faith community or household context. Both have the same goal however it is the domain of others to write from a leadership perspective.
This is a loaded question in many ways. It’s asking what is actually valued?
For example, we might say, “We value CONNECTIONS with children!” If so, how? To what extent? How much time, energy and/or resource are we giving it? Is it working for everyone? What are we doing well? Let’s continue that and even find ways to improve. What’s not working? What do do about it and how do we check up that what we try is working?
The challenge here is to apply this style of audit to all we say we value.
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Celebrate & foster the ways we CONNECT with children
As a faith community we celebrate worship, learn, socialise and go about mission together. When we connect with children in and through these activities we will model and teach appropriate and loving relationships with one another.
Children need to PARTICPATE
Activities and relationships of the faith community need to involve everybody; calling forth a team effort as we exercise our skills and gifts; learning to deal with unmet expectations and conflict.
We need to ENGAGE children.
We will engage children in the Gospel message through a kaleidoscope of appropriate, creative, colourful, multi-sensory, multi-learning, multi-age approaches that result in thoughtful and/or heart-felt responses to the Word of God.
Children need to experience that they BELONG
We want our kids to stay and be part of our church. One of the keys is that children need to sense they belong. Belonging is also a key in encouraging healthy development in children, including their faith development, as we value their contribution to our postive growth as households & churches.
Help children to RESPOND
As a follow on from children connecting, participating and engaging in faith forming activities, we need to learn the art of appropriately and prayerfully encouraging, inviting, recognising and celebrating faith responses in all their forms.
There are a number of options to help get the direction right for you in this area
- A phone or coffee conversation with Phil on this topic.
- A review of your program and training against these keys to affirm and encourage those areas you are doing well and suggestions for improvement where and if required.
- A presentation of an overview of these areas with discussion. (20 minutes or up to 1hr)
- A 4hr workshop exploring these themes in a interactive discussion.