Please meet our Quokka
a toy version of an Australian marsupial http://www.natureaustralia.org.au/celebrating-australia/meet-the-quokka/
You may well ask “what are you showing us that for? then even ask ” But he belongs on the other side of the country anyway?” if you know a little something about Quokka’s and where I write from, Melbourne, Australia.
He is our latest attempt to satisfy Church Councils Outreach objectives.
I have been working with an amazing group of people, everyone blessed with a different skill set, but everyone focused on finding ways to engage the community in which we live. They are also unique in that they all implicitly have an understanding of spiritual formation.
My favourite book on Children’s Spirituality is one by Rebecca Nye ( Children’s Spirituality- What is it and Why it matters, 2000, Church house London). It explains why such a diverse bunch as our group could understand it so well, even when being blessed with very different skill sets. And though Nye differentiates Adult spirituality as being about particular experiences (p.7) and children’s as being more holistic (p.8), she does concede that they are connected in two ways, “first, a key task for adult spiritual maturity is to “become like a child” —–Secondly, children become adults and so carry forward their spiritual formation.(p.11). Speaking for my self I would be honoured if you think I’m spiritually “Childish”.
So though Methodism started with an outreach to the worker, we, in what could be defined as an “affluent suburb”, saw our mission as reengaging the community with the idea of worship. The thing that is missing from their lives.
Don’t get me wrong we do participate in some traditional forms of mission. But we have a steady stream of community who use our facilities everyday for everything other than the purpose they were built for, too worship.
Now I don’t think Quokka, chosen because he is Australia’s most photogenic marsupial, after a few alternative suggestions, can do that on his own.
We have employed him to hold signs up around the sanctuary during the week to educate anyone curious about what happens in that space.
Here is our Minister in one of the signs In Church Pulpit, I have his permission to use this one (that’s trust!). We have used simple words and a picture of the area of the church in use, so that all may understand.
We have also used the signs to make a book.
We have created a families worship space at the front of the church, and are creating a children’s activity space in the foyer, where caregivers who feel that they need to leave the service can go, and where our youngest visitors during the week will always be welcome to read, play or rest.
Many of our parishioners, take the time to smile or say hello to those that use our facilities, we have a new website, multimedia slide presentations. We have a fountain made for an anniversary by the children of the congregation that attracts all visitors.
We don’t have a child and family minister, ( just an ex one).
We are still a missional church our outreach audience and methods are a little different, that’s all. But hey, wasn’t Jesus, a little different too, and encouraging of the children in the communities he preached! We hope that we have followed in that.
So what is your mission, and how does that include children’s spirituality.