The boring truth about having an exciting kids’ ministry
Gardening is not my gift.
Roughly once a year, I traipse around the garden centre, searching for some miracle plant to transform our poor, neglected garden into something out of Gardener’s World.
To the non-expert, there are two types of plants at garden centres: those with glossy leaves and colourful flowers, and those which are stumpy and twiggy with barely any visible growth.
Naturally, I end up bringing home something in the first category: strong, healthy, impressive. It looks promising, and I pin all my hopes on it to do the impossible. But within weeks, it’s looking shrivelled and sad.
But on the odd occasion I’ve bought one of the less-impressive affairs, it’s usually been the most successful purchase. Yes, it might take a while to bloom, but when it does, it goes from strength to strength, producing incredible growth year after year.
When wanting to develop our children’s and youth work, it can often seem tempting to go for the plant which is already looking vibrant: the shiniest new resource for Sunday groups or the most well-packaged initiative for teenage Bible studies. We so desperately want to see growth in the younger generation that we grab whatever looks like it will take that desert wasteland of teenage ambivalence and produce colourful blooms of passionate discipleship.
But what if the plant we need is actually a bit less slick?
What if real, lasting change in the spiritual temperature was not about the latest strategy, but something far more everyday, more commonplace…more ‘boring’?
The truth is that if we want to see sustainable growth in the hearts of our kids and teens, we need to equip our most valuable commodity: their parents.
We see our kids for an hour or two a week; parents see them every day. It’s parents – not us – who journey with their kids, day in, day out. It’s parents who have the mealtime conversations, pray for grazed knees, help process what happened at school, nurse the broken heart.
Encouraging parents in their role as their kids’ and teens’ primary disciplers will pay dividends in terms of openness to the gospel and spiritual growth.
Of course, we do still have an important role to play in supporting this natural faith growth with our weekly groups – as well as reaching kids/teens whose families aren’t believers. But for those growing up in the garden of a Christian family, let’s plant seeds of encouragement: parents really are perfectly positioned to influence their children’s faith.
At Parenting for Faith, we offer several helpful resources:
- Pop-up Small Groups – on our Facebook page, for parents and carers
- Parenting for Faith – free online course
- Certificate in Parenting for Faith – in-depth online training for children’s, youth and families’ leaders
- Bitesize Babies & Toddlers – short online course, accessible to those exploring faith
- Parenting as a Church Leader – free course to equip those parenting children within the ‘goldfish bowl’ of ministry life