In 2004 the National Church Life Survey indicated that over 80% of people make a faith decision by the time they are 19 years of age. I am sharing this to show how significant Child and Families ministry is. Child and Family Ministry deals with children and their families from pre-birth to 18 years of age. The time when most of us make a faith decision.
It is an emerging area of ministry in Australia, at least in its current form, and is happening at a time when the Australian population is reeling from the effects of the Royal Commission into Child abuse. We have all been made aware of how precious our children and young people are. Biblically such passages as Jesus and the children and the Matthew 18:1-4 and its sibling synoptic passages make it clear that the priority of Jesus was always at the heart of Christian action and theology.
Sociologist have been stating that there has been a fundamental society change, a shift that last occurred 60 years ago. Two recent studies (https://indd.adobe.com/view/0672cab6-cf26-4595-b572-9146f31af43e and http://mccrindle.com.au/the-mccrindle-blog/faith-and-belief-in-australia) show that the needs of our Christian youth have also changed. This does not mean that the traditional Youth Worker is redundant just that Child and Family Ministry, which embraces the whole family, and aims to provide inclusive space for children, youth and families in worshipping congregations is better suited to dealing with these new dynamics.
Inclusiveness and relationships are the drivers for Child and Family Ministry. This can take many forms from Intergenerational services, Messy Church and traditional services where the children stay during the service but are given assistance to help understand and participate. To BBQ lunches, mentoring programmes, volunteer programmes, weekend workshops etc.
There is much that Child and Family ministry can do for a congregation, it can be missional, it can be pastoral, finding opportunities to meet with families individually and jointly and to find other liturgical occasions to bring the families together.
Every congregation needs a Child and Family Ministry.
- This originally appeared as an article in Wesley Church Melbourne’s Connections November Monthly congregational newsletter