Recommendations for Churches
Observations and recommendations from recent research
Our research showed overwhelmingly that children’s workers and parents alike have found the pandemic to be frustrating, exhausting and at times isolating. Many have felt ill-equipped and at a loss to know how to minister amongst children and families through these changing times. Some key things which are emerging as very important:
- Shout loudly in your context about the importance of ministry amongst children and families - use your voice and platform to highlight how these ministries may have been marginalised or overlooked due to the pandemic events.
- Find ways to ensure that children have a voice and a part to play in church life, despite how they may have been side-lined during the pandemic.
- Find ways to equip and inspire adults to get involved in serving through children and family ministry. Positive role models of faith are so impactful for children (and parents!), so try to build into your congregation a culture of different ages intentionally modelling and supporting one another's journeyings.
- Intentionally and deliberately listen to families for their needs (spiritual and otherwise!).
- Devise strategies for building relationships with children and families - consider carefully how your ministry can meet their individual needs, rather than trying to reach big groups in one go.
Here are a few things that we have noticed during the pandemic:
➢ Children's ministry is often not viewed as a priority - In many cases, when there were limited resources available, churches opted to maintain adult ministries but cease or postpone ministry amongst children.
➢ Work together - The pandemic situation has highlighted that there is very little ethos of collaboration between church, home and school. Intentionally building in ways of working together is very enriching for the spiritual life of the child.
➢ Disconnect between what parents and church think is needed - Our research showed that Christian parents predominantly accessed support through friends and family, rather than the church. Yet many churches stated that they spent incredible amounts of time and energy on trying to ensure Christian families felt supported by the church. This suggests that churches are not accurately aware of the needs of Christian families and hence are not adequately meeting those needs.
➢ Lack of clarity about who is responsible for children's faith - We found that the vast majority of Christian parents wanted support in their role of nurture their child's faith at home, yet the support received for this specific area seemed minimal. Furthermore, whilst many churches stated that they saw parents as a key part of a child's faith development, the underlying ethos was dis-empowering to parents in this respect.
A helpful blog: Dr. Lawson Murray, Author at Childrens Ministry Basics