Paradigms

Imagination and Innovation: The Future of Children’s Ministry

A broken system.

The future of children’s ministry is compromised. Why? Because the system of children’s ministry, as it exists in most churches, is broken (underperforming). I say this with a heavy heart. Research indicates that “millions of children and youth raised in the church will continue to leave unless something changes” [cf. Generations Lost].

The problem is widespread. According to The Generational Awakening, “The Global Church is experiencing a discipleship crisis where as few as 10% of youth in our Christian families and churches are considered as having a clear and resilient faith … This reality leaves many parents and church leaders feeling devastated, defeated, and discouraged.”

As few as 10% of youth in our Christian families and churches are considered as having a clear and resilient faith ... Share on X

With children’s ministry under threat, we obviously need to create a new system. But what do we need to create, and how do we do it?

Before we answer this question, we should recognize that reforms in children’s ministry have been proposed and applied for decades. These reforms have focused mainly on improving the processes of the existing system by proliferating best practices. Unfortunately, changes made to the existing system, though well-intentioned, have had limited effect. They’ve been inadequate because they addressed the symptoms of the problem rather than the core issues. This is why we need a completely new system of children’s ministry.

A new system.

How, then, do we create a new system? With sanctified imagination. Everything we create begins with imagination. The scientist Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.”

Modifications in the existing system looked back to understand what shapes children’s ministry today. To develop a new system, we must imagine the future. And we must do so, realizing that the way to build a foundation for renewal is to create the conditions for incremental transformational change.

The way to build a foundation for renewal is to create the conditions for incremental transformational change. Share on X

Transformation is God redeeming and restoring to His originally intended life-nurturing state. For the future of children’s ministry to be transformed, God’s Word must be the guiding light. This is essential. The philosophy (why), methodology (how), and content (what) of children’s ministry must be biblically motivated and informed. As we think ahead, the Scriptures must be the cornerstone of the new system, or the future will be unattainable.

Next steps.

The mental and emotional buy-in that sustains the existing system of children’s ministry is deeply entrenched and resistant to change. With most people resistant to change, creating a new system of children’s ministry will likely be an uphill battle. Very few people are inclined to think outside of the box. We, therefore, need pioneering, imaginative people who are skilled change agents with the expertise to facilitate progress. The right tools and processes to develop a new system that’s contextual, scaleable and sustainable are also required.

We need pioneering, imaginative people who are skilled change agents with the expertise to facilitate progress. Share on X

We can’t create a new system drawing on our natural skills and abilities. A new system of children’s ministry that creates the conditions for incremental transformational change must be supernaturally empowered and directed. So, we must trust God to make all things new (cf. Isaiah 43:19). For He alone can give us the gifts, abilities, and resources to accomplish the task he’s called us to fulfill.

Finally, we must pray with every step we take. Unless the Lord directs our path, we will labour in vain and grow weary for nothing.

We have a wonderful opportunity to reach out to children in new ways and journey in faith with them. Will we?

What are your views about the future of children’s ministry? Please share in the comments below.

Related Articles

Generations Lost: Revitalizing Children’s and Family Ministry in a Secular Age

How to Renew Children’s Ministry

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

© Scripture Union, 2024

2 Corinthians 4:5

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