I have been challenged as of late to think differently about a great many things, mainly about contextualizing ministry. I know I’ve written a little before about this, but some reading (Youth Ministry 3.0 and Who Moved My Cheese), seem to address the same issue. Either, you can continue to follow the same path as you have always had, and when the well runs dry, you can stick around and suffer or you can boldly chart new territory. As a youth minister, there are many books, but a template or model for ministry that works well in your ministry setting is one that is contextualized to your particular setting. Really, our theologies of children and teens and the church will determine how we approach ministry to children/teens/families. For instance, either kids are the church of tomorrow, or a part of the church of today. Within this break down, or my oversimplification there are many different approaches. I have seen in a lot of places, a merger of these two different ideas.
So what children’s/youth ministry model works best? One that is indigenous to your particular setting, one that draws upon the resources at your disposal, one that understands the psychosocial development of children/teens, one that is not just family friendly, but family engaging and equipping. I believe that our theology should inform our practice, and our practice should inform our theology. This praxiological loop is important. I think it helps us to evaluate where we are, and helps us to see where we’ve been, and helps provide contextual clues as to where we are going.
If Jesus recognized the importance of children, by stating that unless we become like little children, then we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Or saying, the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these, we better well take notice of what is being said here. Children have wonder, they are dependent, they believe, imagine, play, hope, love, make friends with strangers, they are innocent, they don’t see color, they share, etc… Our children and teens need to see adults modeling these same characteristics, and ministry in churches must incorporate these traits and allow kids to be kids.