Thriving Ministry with Children

CEAS produced four video pieces demonstrating energising, successful Christian learning among young people – and adults, too – for the Thriving Ministry with Children Conference in Scotland in Nov 2018

This research, commissioned by Action for Churches Together in Scotland, highlighted four key areas that are crucial for ministry with children to thrive:

  • Relationships – with children, young people and families as well as with others connected to the ministry contexts
  • Community – including a sense of belonging and connection, and clear communication with the wider church and the local community
  • Team work – where sharing in gifts, collaboration, and effective planning and support are evident
  • Learning – experiences for children and young people as well as adults engaging with them, where questions can be asked and insights explored together

Relationships – based in the outskirts of Glasgow, Jenny runs The Voice Project as a way of engaging with young people in a community which faces a range of challenges through singing and music. This takes place in local schools and community areas with children and all ages, pioneered by a house church plant with several families living in the local area. The mission focus of this church expression is in creating contacts and building relationships that enable faith conversation and exploration. Jenny speaks about the importance of relationships in her ministry where, in a small mission-focus fellowship, every member really matters.

Community – based in the more rural town of Strathaven, Janette is involved in leading Outreach Community Church, planted near the turn of the century with a passion for their local community. It has been engaged in ministry with children, families and young people over that time, and strategically developing this work to be rooted in serving the wider community through generous hospitality, fun and support. This long term approach, embedded in the church DNA, has seen tremendous growth in opportunities, initiatives and engagement with children and families. Different aspects of ministry have been added to the provision – building relationships and creating conducive spaces that enable conversation and sharing.  Janette describes how their fellowship developed largely through identifying, and then meeting, needs in their community. She explains that through high-quality culturally relevant initiatives, such as a commercial cafe and Christian learning closely tied to contemporary movies, church is seen as relevant, engaging and welcoming by increasing numbers of people.

Teamwork – located NW of Edinburgh in a housing estate, in this new town of Livingston, in a congregation which started life as a pioneering, multi-denominational ‘experiment’ in 1963, Darren tells the story of inter-generational worship groups which meet regularly to plan worship for the whole church. This Sunday morning intergenerational service follows in the tradition it was established by experimenting in the sharing of buildings, worship and services, and includes different ages of children/young people and adults, working together in a local partnership between the Church of Scotland, Methodist Church, Scottish Episcopal Church, and United Reformed Church. It seeks to be a true intergenerational expression in its planning, delivery and evaluation, which brings a variety of dynamics. The creativity, imagination and challenge of bringing together people of diverse ages and views has enriched the experience of worship for everyone. So much so, those who attend this service – which has seen a threefold growth in five years – would now not miss the opportunity to participate so fully in the work of the people of God who together offer worship.

Learning experience– the provision of Godly Play, based in Crammond Kirk in the north of Edinburgh, offers a shared experience of learning through the GP approach to story, wondering and sharing together. It, along with other partners utilising GP in a significant way in Sunday morning worship, midweek events and holiday clubs, is seeing the long term benefits it brings. In this video illustrating creativity in thriving ministry with children and young people, Alex and Edith from Cramond Kirk explain the benefits and significance of Godly Play to support the spiritual exploration and development of their young people. Children have access to GP every week and are opting to continue to gather on Sundays at Crammond Kirk way into the teenage years, as their church experience, learning and discipleship has been formed over many years of engaging with the bible stories, wondering and response in this way. But it is not just children and young people who are learning! The value of this experience is shared by all.

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