Multi-National Children’s Ministry Report 2021

Executive Summary

Do We Need a New Plan for Children’s Ministry?

A Report Based on Research in Brazil, Canada, US, and UK in later pandemic stages

This research project revealed areas of concern in ministry amongst children and families in the four case study nations. There are indications that for the majority of children, the pandemic adversely affected their faith formation. Hence, there is an urgent need for church leaders and para-church organisations to lay out clear and effective strategies for the seasons ahead, in the light of our observations of pandemic children and family ministry:

 ●    Decreased engagement of children and families with church during the pandemic.  Feelings of exclusion, isolation and marginalisation of children from churches are widespread, alongside perceptions that ministry amongst children is not prioritised as highly as ministry with adults.

●    Relational connections were highly valued by families but appeared to be one of the most challenging aspects for churches.

●    Children’s role in churches seems to have become more passive than active.  Equally, Christian parents are often viewed as mere conduits to pass on church provision and resources to the child, rather than viewing parents themselves as resources.   Hence there is a transactional relationship between Christian parents and the church rather than relational and collaborative.

●    Christian parents have felt ill equipped for nurturing their child’s faith.  Effective church support of them in this has been limited, and tended to equate to mere resource sharing rather than meaningful and collaborative support, compounded by resources often not being fit for purpose.

●    Collaboration between families, schools and churches has been minimal.  The Church is often viewed as a service provider rather than a partner.  A disconnect was observed between how churches support schools and families: whether content or connection is most effective.

 We conclude that there is an urgent need for church leaders and para-church organisations to prioritise ministry amongst children, and to formulate clear strategies for the way ahead. This must incorporate a new way of working across all of the nations involved in this research – to a mode where parents are authentically in partnership with the church to more effectively support faith formation intergenerationallyRather than provision of resources, there is a need for a deeper level of dialogue to transform the existing mindset of parents feeling ill-equipped and therefore being hesitant to engage with their child’s faith, and reverting to the church having the primary role. This revised approach must embody greater relational connection, rather than being primarily content or program-driven. Ultimately, there needs to be clearer communication, greater clarity and a stronger sense of purpose amongst all who are involved in children’s faith formation in order to best serve children in the seasons ahead.

Got questions?  Contact us at mission@bcmintl.ca or  1-877-272-9262

Ready to apply these findings to your church?  Delve deeper into application through watching our first multi-national event based on this research:

Watch “Rethinking the Framework of Ministry Among Families”