Will the children have faith in the post-pandemic era?
Paradigms

Will the Children Have Faith in the Post-Pandemic Era?

Children’s faith formation in the future.

In an academic article in the Journal of Beliefs and Values, Sarah Holmes, Mimi Larson, and Sue Price ask, “Will the children have faith in the post-pandemic era?” [Read the Article]

With C-19 in the rearview mirror, that’s a great question. Are pre-pandemic perspectives and practices concerning children’s faith formation adequate in a world changed by the pandemic? Are churches still on track with nurturing children’s faith formation if they continue doing what they did before C-19? Or, queried differently, will the established dominant models and methods of children’s, youth and family ministry help or hinder children’s faith formation in the future?

Informed by the research ‘Do Church Structures Enable Children’s and Family Ministry to Grow?’ [Download], Holmes, Larson, and Price stress the urgent need to revise, reimagine, and recreate faith formation methods. They argue that the pre-pandemic approaches are not just ineffective but also irrelevant in the post-pandemic world, highlighting the necessity for a significant shift in our strategies.

There's an urgent need to revise, reimagine, and recreate faith formation methods. Share on X

Whether you agree or disagree with their analysis, you should note that their view also draws on the findings of the Multi-National Children’s Ministry Report (2021) [Download]. This report identified ten deeply flawed attitudes or practices in children’s ministry, indicating a need to develop a new plan [Read the Article].

A different world.

Time will tell if the call for a significant paradigm shift is correct. In the meantime, we can probably agree that post-pandemic life is different. The major change is the accelerated adoption of digital technologies and shielded productivity. Video calls are commonplace, AI has dramatically advanced, and technology has become a lifeline that’s modified how we work, learn, communicate, celebrate and mourn.

Information and communication technology aren’t neutral—they positively and negatively impact children's faith formation. Share on X

Children and youth are not isolated from technological developments. With unprecedented access to information, online content, and social networks, they are forming opinions and making decisions at a younger age than previous generations. This is a whole new ballgame for parents, teachers, and pastors. Why? Because information and communication technology aren’t neutral—they positively and negatively impact children’s faith formation.

A state of suspense.

So, will the children have faith in the post-pandemic era? Holmes, Larson, and Price say, “The answer depends on how approaches to children’s faith formation develop.”

Will the children have faith in the post-pandemic era? “The answer depends on how approaches to children’s faith formation develop.” Share on X

And what might these approaches be for a positive outcome? They envision churches adopting collaborative and intergenerational approaches that foster relationships between children, parents, faith communities, and church leaders. Children would be active participants with a significant voice – journeying together with all age groups in an environment of innovation and tradition where there’s reflection, reflexivity, and adequate support, underscored by deep listening to God, oneself, and others involved.

They also identify the crucial role of the family in children’s faith formation and the need for the church to empower and collaborate with parents in their children’s spiritual development. Bridging the church-family gap is thus essential for ensuring children’s future faith formation.

The future of children's faith formation hangs in the balance. Will churches and parents act now or wait until it's too late? Share on X

These findings deserve a thoughtful, action-oriented response. With a due measure of concern, denominational leaders, pastors, theologians, educators, parents, grandparents, and other stakeholders should consider the implications, consult with children’s/family academics and practitioners, engage in biblical reflection, invite input from all age groups, explore new models of ministry, and develop flexible strategies and resources to facilitate children’s faith formation in the years to come.

The future of children’s faith formation hangs in the balance. Will churches and parents act now or wait until it’s too late?

Your input is valued. Will the children have faith in the post-pandemic era? Please share your observations in the comments below.

Related Articles

Reimagining Children’s Faith Formation

How Children’s Ministry Can Thrive After Covid-19

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