A multi-national Children’s Ministry Report warns that “there needs to be clearer communication and a stronger sense of purpose amongst all who are involved in children’s faith formation”.
An international team of academic researchers and ministry practitioners from Brazil, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States have recently launched the Multi-national Children’s Ministry Report, to answer the question ‘Do we need a new plan for children’s ministry?’.
“There needs to be clearer communication, greater clarity and a stronger sense of purpose amongst all who are involved in children’s faith formation to best serve children in the seasons ahead”, points out the report (which can be downloaded here).
The impact of the pandemic
Due to the pandemic restrictions, not only the traditional church programs closed, but also “many Christian parents became de facto Sunday School teachers and pastors”. Many “felt ill equipped” and “the ministry to children was not prioritised as highly as ministry to adults”.
“For the majority of children, the pandemic adversely affected their faith formation”, because “resources provided by churches tended not to be designed for the purpose of use in the home, but were a replica of what would be used in a church setting, and hence were often ineffective”, says the report.
“Only 2% of churches have a clear strategy for children’s and family ministry”
The report also asked parents “what their family’s spiritual needs were for the season ahead”. Most of them (39%) responded that their desire was “to re-integrate into Christian Community”. 21% expressed a desire for more personal/family discipleship.
When asked about the role that churches should have in their child’s faith nurture, 97% of respondents said that “the Church should not be the primary lead in that, but rather support parents, reinforce parental nurture and be available for advice if needed”.
However, the report shows that “only 2% of churches in the UK, Brazil, Canada and the US have a clear strategy for children’s and family ministry; 68% stated that they had no plan for children’s ministry in their setting, whilst the remainder explained that they were exploring or considering the way forward”.
Training and relations
After addressing all those concerns, “it is our recommendation that a significant paradigm shift is needed across the global Christian Church, with regard to the prevailing ethos and framework of children’s faith formation”, states the report.
In order to achieve it, the churches “need to redress their efforts to support, equip and empower Christian parents” so that they “will be viewed as partners in faith nurture of children, rather than as service-providers”. Furthermore, “instead of being content-driven, there is a need for greater relational connection, so that there is more facilitation of relational contacts for children, particularly across different generations·,concludes the report.
You can read the full report here.
Originally published on the Evangelical Focus
(c) Evangelical Focus, used with permission