I want to do some thinking out loud about how the church encourages and develops spiritual growth in young people.
Here are some questions I am wrestling with as I think about how our church helps with the growth and spiritual formation of our children and young people. As you can see i have lots more questions than answers – so very happy to be part of a conversation on this – let me know your thoughts. Very happy for you to suggest books, bible passages or web pages I should look at.
How do we practice hospitality to people of all ages, backgrounds, educational abilities, understanding of the christian faith?
From a child’s point of view how do we offer a welcome not just in Sunday school but in the whole community of the church?
Is there anything we are doing that is a barrier for young people to come to a fuller understanding of the grace of God?
2. Joined up thinking
What can we do to help the whole church to play its part in encouraging faith, love and hope in our young people?
How can parents work more closely with children’s and youth workers?
What are the opportunities and responsibilities for those of us who do not have children to help shape the lives of our young people?
3. Ethos of encouragement
What are the things we can change to make our young people feel connected with the whole church?
From coffee rotas to prayer times are there things we can be doing to help young people know they are valued in the life of the church?
What should the discipleship of young people look like outside of church meetings?
3. Disciplemaking and not just head filling?
What would a disciplemaking children’s and youth work strategy look like?
How do we asses the effectiveness of our current practice of youth and children’s discipleship?
Does our Sunday provision and midweek group help to grow disciplemaking young people?
How do we move beyond a programme orientated approach to our young people into a genuine whole life community building approach?
What could discplemaking / mentoring look like in our church?
4. Catching Fish and Leaky Buckets
Nationally it seems that the church is in touch with thousands of young people through outward facing youth ministry programmes, schools work, uniformed groups (scouts, brownies etc.) Yet we are struggling with the retention of our own young people. Has anyone done any exit interviews to find out what are the factors that are leading to hemorrhaging of our young people?
5. Biblical literacy
how do we help our children and young people to grow in their confidence, appetite and knowledge for God’s word?
how can we help children who are not academically gifted to not see church as another place where they fail?
Some literature worth consulting: