Ministering to Children conference: Q&A with the speakers

Just before the end of the conference there was a Q&A with the speakers

How much do you refer to the parents, in resourcing them to disciple their children?
Colin: Who is Israel in Deut. 6 is it parents, God, the church, the nation, all of the above. It is a partnership from all. Anyone who is involved sees it as a partnership between church and parents.
Andy: a leader who was a mum told another child off, and the parent complained, had to work through it. We have to see all God’s children as our children.
Pete: primary role for looking after children is me, and if you’re being paid then people assume you will do it. The more we can do to help parents the better.
Helen: Parents are desperate to hear feedback at parents evening, what opportunities do we give.
Jane: remember the non Christian families as they don’t have parents to help them. Church can provide a safer community, helping families to connect with 20 mums doing toddler groups, become a Christian through Alpha, and now have tough challenges moving forward.

Do you have a stance on non-Christians helping to lead children’s work?
Andy: a bunch of non Christians who were in worship group but not leading, all of them were involved in a mentoring relationship moving forwards toward faith, so no problem so long as in that relationship and have boundaries.
Helen: need to be very clear in boundaries and relationship, and you would never want into be outnumbering the Christians, and sympathetic to Christian faith. Seen many volunteers come to faith, and equally how we do know that our “sound” Christians aren’t having crises of faith etc.
Colin: is it on God’s heart or yours, is it because you don’t have enough people to fill the roles. Anyone can paint but to what standard?

Love the idea of integrating children more fully into church but what does that actually look like?
Pete: that is the heart of Messy Church, an all-age group that meets midweek or Saturday. Don’t go to Sunday church as am a member of the Messy Church.
Jane: preached in a church, did the singing and liturgy, and the Vicar said we will go to groups, if want arty and crafty go here, if film go here, if discussion go here, and if want to listen to Jane go here. As started preaching someone interrupted with a question and ended as a dialogue sermon.
Teresa: a common theme from all-ages in Godly Play is that they have their own spirituality, it is visual and so they taken in from where they are.
Andy: don’t need to dumb it down, too many parishioners don’t attend as think it will be dumbed down,
Colin: what is church, a relationship with God and each other, a discussion with church leaders sounds important.

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Ministering to Children: Spirituality Development

Andy de Feu, from Moorlands College is leading this seminar.

Pets don’t last long and so they give us a chance to talk about death. Child lost her hamster, came with a ppt with all the stages of life, sisters share their experience, dad share his bit. This was a significant moment but we could have missed it as we deemed it not important. As Amy shared it she felt secure in asking, and she was validated in her experience.

Get asked a lot of questions. How do you explain the Trinity to a seven year old:

  • Water, ice and steam but it can’t be all 3 states at the same time
  • Egg – yolk, white, shell all egg but need all 3 to be completely egg – but what does the shell represent
  • 3 piece suit – one item clothing, but three items, also made up of the same material.

Why use abstract models to children who need concrete models?

Bryn Hughes: “believe your children into greatness”, don’t ask how can I teach the bible more effectively etc., but ask what do you want the children to become.

When asked what is the biggest decision teenagers have made a lot in Andy’s group talked not about being Christian but living out a Christian faith in front of their friends.  What would we want to see in a group of children and young people with a mature faith:

  • Caring
  • Confident in themselves, in others, in faith
  • Be secure in self-esteem
  • Identity in Christ
  • Have faith
  • Right choices
  • Positive view of church

Your vision will give you permission to stop doing things you are doing, are the Duggy Dug Dug songs helpful or just entertaining, just because I have fun doesn’t mean it contributes to the faith development of children.

Kanon Tipton, the four year old preaching, gained over 4 million hits on YouTube. He started at 21 months, he is mimicking but there is also a calling according to his dad.

Development theories
What stages of faith do we all go through, Fowler believes not many people get to the universal faith – stage 6 e.g. Mother Theresa and Mahatma Gandhi. Imagine if you exposed Santa to your children’s work! Children get confused as parents had said Father Christmas and Tooth Fairy don’t exist so as they haven’t seen God they think he doesn’t exist either.

Aged 8-11 they see ideas as concrete so tell them that God exists as they trust authority figures. Synthetical Conventional encourage them to lie down and look at the stars, what if there were two of me and the other one is in parallel family looking at us but we can’t see them.

Can children achieve a mature faith?

Westerhoff says look at content development. It implies owned faith can’t happen until later, but equally you can add rings to the tree, you can re examine issues of faith. Asking questions, having crises of faith is fine, everyone has a belief system even if it is an atheistic structure.

Christmas crackers can show difference between faith development and Christian spiritual development. We know what is there a bang, hat, joke, present but we don’t know exactly what they are.

Need to pray and seek what God is doing in this child?

“Children are like sponges. They absorb so much, not just from what you teach, but who you are.” James 3 teachers will be judged more seriously, we can distort and confuse the teaching. Children aren’t a blank piece of paper, but a wrinkled ripped broken piece of paper they have issues, scars, hurt and so on. Spiritual development is messy.

The Greeks did us no favours
Dualism of higher sacred and lower secular has been bought into and we have 1 in 168 hours a week to do spiritual development. Did an analysis of children’s and youth work we spent 5 minutes quality time one-on-one as so much of what we do is in big groups. We hope by osmosis they learn about faith and connect with God. How can you develop the soul in five minutes.

Biblical worldview says that God can input across all areas as can Satan and it is seeing who operates the influence.

Creative Spirituality
The least effective way is to teach through purely verbal speech, was 10% probably less now. Visual symbols and simulated experiences by adding in actions and sounds to the bible story. Direct experience are likely to remember 90% of what they are taught, want them to be generous in Spirit, asked them two guys to help clear rubbish to help stewards, chief steward says thanks, they felt amazing. The next night did it again but no chief steward, challenged them to serve but not to be served, to be praised or not, but God knew, it is for the audience of one. That’s spiritual development.

The concrete principle – don’t get abstract, but do relate, e.g. we don’t keep sheep or camels but we know cars so feel free to reinterpret, the important thing isn’t the metaphor but the message.

The Travel Agent Principle – allow Tweens to influence the topics you study, and become more issue based, find the crises in their life and speak from there

The Rotation Principle: a proportion of every module has to be taught outside as boys learn best outside. Pray on the hill outside the village for it, or create an atmosphere of awe and wonder.

Final question
Simon Peter do you love me, do you love me, do you truly love me, Simon is hurt, and Jesus says to feed the sheep (children). Do I love enough to go beyond our norms, for what we are doing, wrestle with John 21:15.

Above all pray for the children, young people and understanding.

Latest research from Church Urban Fund

Church Urban Fund report

Survival Strategies: A survey of the impact of the current economic climate on community organisations in the most deprived areas of England

Church Urban Fund’s latest research report examines the impact of the current economic climate on community organisations in the most deprived areas of England.

It follows two reports published by Church Urban Fund in 2011, ‘At the Cutting Edge’ and ‘Holding on by a Shoestring’, which looked in detail at how public spending cuts were affecting people and organisations at a grassroots level. Returning a year later to the same organisations, we wanted to examine the ongoing effects of the economic climate.

We found that the current economic climate is having a significant impact upon community organisations and people living in deprived areas of England. This impact can be seen in the rising demand for services and the difficulty of securing funding.

However, in response to these difficulties, organisations are employing a range of survival strategies in order to meet rising demand with rising service provision.

The Main Reason People Leave Your Church

All Saints

Thom Rainer has recently blogged on the main reason people leave your church:

Numbers of gifted persons and organizations have studied the phenomenon of the church “back door,” the metaphorical way we describe people leaving the church. And there will always be the anticipated themes of relocation or personal crises. We should recognize those issues, though we can respond to the latter more than the former.

But all the research studies of which I am aware, including my own, return to one major theme to explain the exodus of church members: a sense of some need not being filled. In other words, these members have ideas of what a local congregation should provide for them, and they leave because those provisions have not been met.

Certainly we recognize there are many legitimate claims by church members of unfulfilled expectations. It can undoubtedly be the fault of the local congregation and its leaders.

But many times, probably more than we would like to believe, a church member leaves a local body because he or she has a sense of entitlement. I would therefore suggest that the main reason people leave a church is because they have an entitlement mentality rather than a servant mentality.

Read the rest here.

Responsive Prayer: No it’s the church actually

Church Actually

We used this responsive prayer by Krish Kandiah as part of our response to thinking about our local community at our Churches Together service for unity and prayer on Sunday, it worked really well, and maybe worth you keeping for a future occasion:

This was a “call and response” part of my sermon – I asked the questions and the audience replied “No its the church actually!”

Do you know who provides half of the parent and toddler support groups in the UK. Is it Surestart? No, it’s the church actually.

Do you know who provide the biggest network of debt couselling across the UK with 190 drop-in centres? Helping over 19 141 individuals last year alone? Is it Martin “Moneysavingexpert” Lewis? No it’s the church actually.

Who is it that donated 72 million hours of volunteer work to social initiatives last year estimating a contribution of 1.5 billion pounds a year? Was it the National Trust? No it was the church actually.

Do you know who will feed 100 000 hungry people this year in the UK is it the Redcross? No it’s the church actually!

Do you know who brought hospitals, schools, universities and democracy into our country? Was it the Vikings? No, it was the church actually!

Who invented Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Queen’s Park Rangers, Southampton, and Tottenham Hotspur Football clubs, was it the Football association? No it was the church actually!

When the doctors, the police and the social workers move out of an area and go and live somewhere else who is that moves in ? Is it Richard Dawkins and Militant Atheists? No it’s the church actually!

Who is it that is the hope of the world, is it NATO? No, it’s the church actually!

Kevin DeYoung on You Won’t Know Until It’s Too Late

Think - Desiring God Annual Conference

Kevin DeYoung has written a good post on preachers preaching passable sermons with no preparation:

Most pastors won’t tell you this, but they can preach a passable sermon with almost no preparation. We know how to string sentences together. We know more about the Bible than almost everyone in the church. We can cheat our prep time and no one will know. Not right away.

But over time, church members will think to themselves, “Something’s missing. There’ some power not here that used to be here. There’s some gospel connecting no longer at play. I can’t put my finger on it, but pastor doesn’t preach like he used to.” It happens slowly but surely. Maybe the emails seem more pressing this week, or maybe it’s a meeting, or this administrative thing. It’s not one massive thing, but a mountain of molehills. And then one day, Acts 6:4 is gone. The elders don’t pray. The pastors don’t study.

We must all fight for the ministry of the word and prayer. Elders and pastors must fight to keep it and congregations must fight to support it, to encourage it, to give time for it. Because most pastors and most parishoners don’t notice Acts 6:4 is missing until it’s too late.

You can read the rest here.

Megan Fox on Speaking in Tongues

 

Megan Fox

Megan Fox is best known for her role in films like “Transformers”, but in an interview with Esquire, she’s talked a bit about her faith, the church she’s been attending and speaking in tongues.

The actress revealed that she first began speaking in tongues at the age of eight, growing up in a Pentecostal church in Tennessee.  Fox, who gave birth to a son last September, said she is making church a priority these days.

In the Esquire feature story, she described what it feels like to speak in tongues:

“It feels like a lot of energy coming through the top of your head – I’m going to sound like such a lunatic – and then your whole body is filled with this electric current. And you just start speaking, but you’re not thinking because you have no idea what you’re saying. Words are coming out of your mouth, and you can’t control it.  The idea is that it’s a language that only God understands. It’s the language that’s spoken in heaven. It’s called ‘getting the Holy Ghost.'”

She also talks about how she’s seen “crazy things happen.”

“I have seen magical, crazy things happen. I’ve seen people be healed. Even now, in the church I go to, during Praise and Worship I could feel that I was maybe getting ready to speak in tongues, and I’d have to shut it off because I don’t know what that church would do if I started screaming out in tongues in the back”

Just as interesting are Fox’s musings on being a sex symbol.  While her photo shoot for the magazine suggests she hasn’t exactly turned a corner, she talks like she has. “I didn’t feel powerful,” she says of her time spent as Hollywood’s go-to teen-boy bait.

“It ate every other part of my personality, not for me but for how people saw me, because there was nothing else to see or know. That devalued me. Because I wasn’t anything. I was an image. I was a picture. I was a pose” …