Sunday Reflection: Where do the kids see themselves?

I live in the city with the longest lockdown in the world in this pandemic. Today we learnt that we will be leaving lockdown later this week. It seems to have bought joy to many struggling with the restrictions.

During this time we have learnt to have internet services, school at home (different to the more frequently used term “home schooled” which it hasn’t been), use face time to catch up with friends and family and even to celebrate special occasions with a Zoom party.

Families have learnt how to share faith at home, and congregations have found many ingenious ways of keeping children and families, connected informed and prepared during this pandemic.

In my part of the world, one of the things I have noticed is there has been an increased interest in what it means to be Intergenerational, and how to engage children in faith on line during this time of lockdown.

Now this may sound picky, but what do our internet generation see of themselves when they look at “their” church’s internet presence, be it the web page or other social media formats “their” congregation may use.

So, I am not talking about what they use to find faith on line, but rather about what they see on line regarding their congregation or more broadly their Denomination.

Most of these spaces are inherently adult only, if not in classification, in content.

Now I can understand those for whom safety on the net is an issue, it certainly should be, but these children have used the internet their whole life, they are taught about cyber safety from birth by almost native cyber parents. Often these safety messages are for the older cohorts, as the younger ones are very safety aware. So, let’s put that aside and ask what they would find if they were to make it, safely supervised onto the web or social network sites of the congregation that has nurtured them.

I am asking you to think of this space as being an extension of your Intergenerational expression.

When I started my studies in children’s spirituality and a little later when I was Godly Play trained, I spent time crawling, yes you read that correctly, on the floor of my church and other churches. Try it sometime if you are allowed in your church, and if not try it at home, it is interesting how things changed when viewed from that perspective. Today I am asking you to look at your congregations or denominations sites through those of a child. I am not asking you to see if it has bright colours or cute drawings or photos or page information for the adults to help understand faith formation. 

I am asking you to look at the sites as your child might. What is familiar to them? Is it presented on your pages

For example, children visiting our church are drawn to the fountain, a fountain designed and made by the children of the congregation. These children are now young adults but their handiwork has excited the generation following behind, but it is not on our website. 

A photo by the Minister at my home church

What might your children want to see?

Another thing almost every child and most children have found in our church is that the stained glass can look like a teddy bear staring at you. You cannot see this on our website.

Nor will our children find Quokka, a friendly toy marsupial, that appears around our church drawing children’s attention to different aspects of the church and what it is used for. In our family, friendly area at the front of the church there is a book we wrote that tells of his adventures in the church. This story is not on the website, for our children to find and read while we are closed. 

If we are to be truly intergenerational then we need to consider our cyber space as also needing to be intergenerational too. Will our children feel that this space belongs to them or only to the adults? Is this the last unaddressed issue of Intergenerational change?

Let me know your thoughts?


Wendy L.

I am writing this on Wurundjeri land and wish to pay respect to all Elders, past, present and emerging.


Sunday Reflection: Connection

One of the things that has come out of lockdown for me, has been the time spent with the family. We are now a family of adults, and as is the majority experience in Australia where I live, they live at home. Lockdowns have meant that we have all been spending a lot more time together, working from home, not being allowed out except for 2 hrs of exercise, or to do the grocery shopping (surprisingly no rush for that out). We have been eating together more frequently, no one is running in after an extend time at work, or running out to see friends, see movies, eat out etc. Though we usually regularly come together and dine out, giving everyone the opportunity to relax and just share. I have found that at home we have been sharing on a much deeper level. It has given me the opportunity to understand my children’s faith development better.

For quite a few years I have been saying that my children have no faith, but during this time I have had the opportunity to hear what they have taken on into adulthood, yes, they only attend church 3 times a year, but they do so not to please me but because it makes sense of the season better for them.

They pray.

They can explain what Christianity is. 

They know the Bible well.

They just don’t attend church regularly.

This knowledge has helped me rethink, not just the way I see my faith parenting, but also to broaden my questioning of why my children don’t want to attend church more regularly than 3 times a year.

Within the family, we can have faith discussions, now I am not saying that these table time discussions are even close to worship, but it does have that first century feel. Assembled together sharing food, information ( ie: a disciples letter in the first century) a You tube clip, a song, a tik tok post, a meme, and ourselves.

So, what is wrong with church? Yes, they can nit pick at this or that element, but I get the strong sense it is actually not what we do in the service, but rather who is at the service, or rather not at the service.

Their peers, are also only at church 3 times a year. My children I’ve discovered will have conversations with friends outside the church community about faith and spirituality in their day to day conversations. I admire this, I only have these types of discussions with churched people. 

What is missing is connection, not to God, but to churched people.


This is where I feel the Intergen movement has something to offer. Intergenerational worship is about inclusion and connection. Not just in their peer levels but across the ages.

When I stop to think about my children’s experience of church, I only see this type of connection in the church we attended when my eldest child was younger. But no such connections were made with either their peers or other adults in the other two congregations we attended as they grew.

Personally, I always had strong adults in my life and in our congregations that I felt valued and led me. This has not been my children’s experience. Even now I am struggling as I find that those people are not in my congregation anymore and neither is there anyone whom I might influence. I, like my children, am struggling with personal connection, and though my pull for church is a response to God’s influence in my life, at present I am finding more of that connection at home than in the pews.

Today’s Old Testament reading (2 Samuel 7:1-14a) shares David’s excitement at wanting to give God a home. We learn in the Ephesians reading(Ephesians 2:11-22) that God is in us all. Call it Intergenerational worship but what we all need is not bricks and mortar but CONNECTION.

To God and then to other’s.



Wendy L.

I am writing this on Wurundjeri land and wish to pay respect to all Elders, past, present and emerging.

Sunday Reflection: Preaching’s not for Children?

During the week, I had the good fortune to attended a local preaching conference.It was well run, had great speakers, motivated us and was an absolute delight to participate in. I should have been on the other side of the world, but as these things happen the fires that are heavily affecting two countries, America and Australia, put paid to business/social plans and so I was able to attend this instead. And I was excited, still am, but there was one thing, that niggles at me for the two days, this conference, for Ministers of the Word, assumed that their audience was over 18 years of age, understood English, and were educated to Tertiary level at a time when listening and contemplation were necessary skills for learning.

It did throw a nod to the mentally ill, first generation Australians, and a brief reference by one of the key note speakers to the fact that there is only one reference to mass gatherings and preaching while most other references of Jesus’s teaching in the Gospels was through stories and small group discussions.

Given that the convener was an ex-teacher and Chaplain at that, I was surprised by this oversight. I found the response that it was the responsibility of another department of the Church, unsatisfying. It perpetuates the idea that children are not part of ministry. Yet if we take the view that Preaching is more than the sermon, the whole construct of the service, children are still present for a third of the time in a traditional format, ie leaving through the service to attend Sunday School. These little jugs have ears, they see, hear, feel, even if the ecclesiastical arguments are beyond them. Failing to include the worshipping child in a conference on Preaching is an oversight, a mistake of history, but one that could so easily be addressed. Is it really, too hard to invite the presence of another department? Aren’t we in the business of integration!

And it is not just an issue with this conference, I spoke to some of our Minister’s that had attended an American Preaching conference earlier in the year, not one, recounted in their experience of the example of preaching with children.

Until the walls come down between child learning and faith formation, and adult worship the divide that exists between children and adults in the worshipping community will continue, while we still see that it is not important to give our best leaders to the children, we are not being true to Matthew 18: 1-5. We can do better, it takes a bit of thought and effort, but we are really close, if we just think a bit more broadly.


Wendy L.

Sunday Reflection: School Holidays

When I was teaching in the classroom, this was the break I was most desperate for. Yes, I know it was only 10 weeks since the last break but maybe it was because this term is the coldest, the one filled with the most germs, coughing kids, flu, sore throats, etc, all I wanted was a break, and not to catch up with prep or marking but a break for me, no classes, no prep, no alarm clock.

So, I really get it that this is the term break when most families disappear from church, even when they are not going anywhere. Give me a break.

But when I was working in an inner city church, it surprised me that this was the break where we saw the largest increase in children, and not just our own members, we would see more travellers and their children, though of course the Christmas break and it’s luxurious 6 weeks was always the one where we had more non-community children present. Having come from the Suburbs, where universally the Sunday School program would end with term, the 3 weekends of the break would see the congregations average age increase dramatically as the children and their parents/caregivers disappeared.

It has always intrigued me that congregations, particularly congregations still running the Sunday School at the same time as church, a 250 year old model, don’t think outside the square and make these term breaks an occasion for experimentation. Make it a goal to run Intergenerational Services, or try Messy Church consistently each school break, or at the very least supply material that can help younger worshippers understand and participate in a traditional service.

Ok, I hear you say well what about the Sunday School Teachers? This is their chance to worship with the rest of the congregation. True, but I also find they are missing in action during these breaks.

OR if your congregation is happy to let the youngest members of your community rest away from Worship for 10 weeks of the year. Then the least you can do is use this time to encourage Family Faith Formation, by supplying programs that they can do as home worship. Some resources you might find useful are


Use your websites to give out suggestions for the Break,

or supply your families with websites or books that give good Family Faith Formation ideas.

At the very least start a lending Library so that Families and Grandparents can borrow beautiful Bibles, story book Bibles and storybooks that allow them to share the faith with a new generation.


Oh by the way, did I say I need a break!

Safe travels, safe downtime


Wendy L.

Sunday’s Reflection: 19/5/2019 Stats, Stats and ??

Not only does the Northern hemisphere seem to be warming up with conferences interesting anyone involved in Child and Family Ministry. In the past few weeks we have had Orange, http://orangeblogs.orgin the USA, though generously available to anyone “upside down” who is able to be sleep deprived with live internet sessions; Messy Church, in the UK, and InterGenerate 2019

USA, about to start. Such a collection of people and ideas involved in Children’s or Intergenerational ministry, is indicative of how important Ministry with children is now.


But there is something else emerging with the warming weather, a collection of long needed statistics.


were the first stats out of the northern winter, followed by the publishing of a paper in the Journal of Research on Christian Education on the Impact of a Paid Children, Youth or Family Worker on Anglican Congregations in England ://, and then the publishing of the data from the Gen On questionnaire completed by congregations, worldwide.


Before we hurry, and we should with great excitement, towards the statistics, we should also stop and ask a few questions. It is important to be aware of the aims of the studies and where they are from. Does data coming from the Northern Hemisphere reflect the social realities of the Southern Hemisphere? What of these statistics is universal, and what are cultural? really must be one of the first questions we ask ourselves in the Southern Hemisphere. Also, we should ask ourselves Who produced the statistic? under what conditions? and we need to ask ourselves if we believe we would get similar results in our own culture.

Unfortunately, Australia lags with statistical research around Child and Family Ministry and there would appear to be several reasons for this. The first is that getting research trials involving children through values committees is harder, more complicated than in any other time in Australian history. Second, We don’t have access to data banks with the types of statistics required, though you can put in a request to to see, but as many Uniting Church in Australia have not replied to their questionnaires, there is little, especially Victorian data available. Also, to access what is available requires money.

When we combine with the Northern hemisphere our data is minute and makes no difference to the statistics. For example, only 32 Australian churches and 5 New Zealand churches are represented in the Gen On data, less than 3 %.

But it is Data, and I have been asking for data for a few years now, primarily because Ministers and congregations have been asking for proof of the need to move away from the Sunday School model that most church council members grew up with. Until now, all I and others involved in Child and Family Ministry, have had available to us is Theory, primarily borrowed from educational and spirituality theorists, and Biblical basis grown out of the Child Theology Movement. A form of theological analysis not encountered in the traditional form and structure exegesis.[1] and Child Theology a Theological Response by Francis Young in  Anvil Vol.35 Issue 1

Asking congregations to trust, to have faith in a new structure has been difficult for many. It has worn out many involved in Child and Family Ministry. I am not saying that the incoming statistics will solve our capacity to sell change, but that it is another resource available to congregations to help guide social and structural changes in the education of our young. But we also need to be wary of using data without due consideration and which may not reflect our cultural experience. And may I encourage more garden variety data of our own. And we have had some

Dr Vivien Mountain, Children’s Prayer: Multi-faith Perspectives (2016, Christian Research Association, Nunawading)



Wendy L.

[1]Bunge, Marcia J. (ed), The Child in the Bible, (2008, William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids)

Communion as a place for Intergenerational learning and acceptance

My two favourite stories come from some of the youngest members in my care.

The first story is of a newly minted toddler, two weeks earlier she was a crawler, easily picked up by her parents when ever she moved out of range, and bought back to the fold.

Now she had disappeared. In any church a missing child is a concern but to an inner city church, a thousand awful  possibilites crossed my mind.

While some of us searched, and the concern was starting to swell forward from the rear of the church, communion was going on. Where did we find her, sitting at our Minister’s feet, waiting patiently for her “errant” parents (that seemed to be the look on her face) to join her so she could have communion.

The second was another slightly older child, who took to serving “communion” to his parents at the start of each meal.

These children regularly, every second week, participated, along with the other members of our congregation in Communion, which was an open table for “all who love Him, and those who want to love Him more”.

This truely intergenerational regular moment, was a true embodiment of remembrance of and for Christ.

Everyone who wanted to be was involved. Even Baby’s in arms were blessed,

Communion elements went to all, including the children.

It was a regular occurrence, meaning that even the most time pressured of parents, managed to participate regularly.

Children demonstrated, through their behaviour that they understood how important this event was, and that they wanted to be a part of it.

Adults allowed them to participate equally. Making space for families to be together, and not excluding the children.

Not every congregation has the capacity to frequently include communion, though some manage it every week.

Not every denomination, allows for an open table.

To me it seemed the most inclusive, intergenerational moment.

I am curious if others have had similar experiences. Or have other experiences of inclusivity.


Wendy L.

Intergenerational doesn’t go far enough

Yesterday was ANZAC day a remembrance of the combined Australian and New Zealand  forces and the horror of World War 1 at Gallipoli, and Villers-Bretonneux. Forging national identities and tales of heroism and friendship in their wake.

As I watched the services I was reminded of the diversity in the crowds, both in age and in backgrounds.

Where else do I see such diversity?

Church. Yes, even when the faces may all have the same hew, I know that some speak a language other than english, I know that some have been refugees of modern wars.

Much noise is made these days about the importance of being intergenerational in worship. It is one of the rare opportunities we have of sharing in a non-segregated manner, not just for children, but for all of us.

Studies done in the Netherlands have shown that the aged benefit from having younger people living with them. see also or

In worship we should be one, regardless of age, background or heritage.

Here we can learn to be brothers and sisters. One young person under my care in an integrated service, pointed out that as an only child they didn’t know how to be a sibling. Over our years together, that child learnt to be a great big sister and how to enjoy being a little sister. While still going home an only child.

I watched our infirm smile at the antics of our youngest members.

I listened as people translated, shared their histories, and shared the thing we all had in common, our faith.

When we regularly attend church we don’t have to wait for “one day a Year” ANZAC day to see all this. We see it each week. We don’t see it when we take our children to sport instead, or staying home because we are worn out by the pressures of the week.

No matter your age we all benefit from this intergenerational experience called Church.