I was privileged to serve a church for ten years that highly valued children. Our second paid staff member was a gifted children’s worker. Many of our key investments of time and energy went into children and young people. A Kids Club that gathered (at its peak) around 60 children every week from the surrounding estate, youth clubs that gathered 15-30 more, significant subsidising of summer camps like Newday and a twice yearly social action weekend.
Some of our most lengthy, protracted and challenging conversations in the team was around serving children particularly on Sunday mornings. We would have around 50-60 adults and 30-40 under 18s which was at times a strained, noisy, joyful dynamic. We would agonise over the rows of kids looking bored and disengaged during the service and be grateful for the great stories that would later come from the children’s groups. On the whole I thought our church worked really hard to serve children well, to see them as valued and not secondary and invest into them and those serving them.
I have also become increasingly convinced that something was missing, or not quite fitting right. So I’ve been interested in following some of the posts by Krish Kandiah about children and the church. It was this one titled stop cutting parents out of children’s formation that resonated most.
The short (6 minute) video of a talk by Alan Charter who shares gently but convincingly of the need to put the family at the heart of discipleship and the formation of the spiritual lives of our children.
As a parent that is a challenge that both scares me and thrills me. Even though our children are still very young, I feel the weight of the responsibility but I love the privilege of getting to share with two people I love the joy of knowing and following Jesus.
Yet the church needs to equip parents in how to disciple their kids and as a result the way we do things as churches and families may need to change. How do we teach mums and dads to invest in the spiritual life of their family? How do we model that?