Take a moment to have a look at the picture above. It’s piles of two pence coins but it’s there to represent a week’s worth of time in the life of a child. This was a challenge that Martyn Payne brought to those on the Children’s Ministry Academy course in his session last month; the three piles represent the amount of time spent at home, at school and at church in the average child’s week. His point was to ask the question as to why we put so much resource into what we do with children on a Sunday when it accounts for such a small proportion of their lives.
I don’t completely agree with this analysis as it seems to assume that what happens on a Sunday happens in isolation and wouldn’t have impact or outworking for the rest of the child’s week. I believe that good children’s work of any tradition would seek to resource children and provide them with a framework that would allow them to understand their lives in the light of God being part of it. That would be a good question to ask yourself and help you critique your ministry: ‘how is my time with the children impacting these two key areas of a child’s life?’
I digress, excuse me. There is of course another way of developing this diagram and that is to remove the two coins and drop them back into family life. Where Martyn is spot on is to acknowledge that for almost every child there are two key places to meet them and neither of them is church on a Sunday morning. He suggested all manner of ways to reach children by working in schools or by making your church more accessible to families by using things like Messy Church. I’m sure you will be familiar with many of these options. However Martyn was also very insightful about how to begin these projects.
There is a tendency to look for ideas in what has worked in other places and try and copy that; but what I took from the session was the need to reverse that and start by looking inwardly. Rather than trying to imitate someone else’s success, look at your situation and the skills and abilities of your team and allow your strategy to form from there.
For a church near where I live that meant that they viewed the three FA qualified coaches as a sign they should start a football team! However this method seems more healthy to me than trying to ‘shoe-horn’ your team into someone plan; rather build your plan around the skills and resources you have in your team and of course the opportunities that your particular parish presents.