Ministry to Families

Growing Younger : Welcoming families into the local church
by Roger Morgan

For many local churches the big question is ‘how can we attract families to our church?’ Nationally child attendance is in decline, and the average age of our congregations is rising. Roger Morgan has spent a number of years researching good practice in children’s ministry, and he has identified a number of simple steps that can be taken by any church wishing to grow younger.

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Growing Younger begins with two basic questions:
  1. How can a church with very few children become a church with lots of children?
  1. How can a church which does have children best nurture those children so as to ensure that most of them enter adult life as disciples of Jesus?
Based on the experience of churches all over the country, Growing Younger seeks to provide answers to these questions. Designed as a handbook to good practice, it includes many stories and offers a practical way forward for any church in any situation.
The answer which Growing Younger gives to the first question is to embark on a series of steps. If these steps are followed one by one, then sooner or later more and more children will become involved. The first step is to put someone in charge of the ministry to families, ideally someone who is paid by the church. The second step is for the lead person to recruit a small team to work with him or her on the project. The third step is for this team to find ways to spend lots of time with families, and the fourth step is to launch a regular event of some kind – an event designed to attract the families the team is getting to know. Growing Younger discusses the style of this event and its contents and suggests a number of alternatives. It also discusses how to work with and in schools, and how to develop activities for secondary age children.
The answer to the second question is that children will grow and flourish only if a deliberate attempt is made to disciple them. We agree wholeheartedly with the statement “there is no such thing as a junior Holy Spirit”. Whatever can be expected of adults can also be expected of children. Here are some stories of real children who were nurtured by good churches and taught to have a personal relationship with God:
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  • John believes that his life has been created by God for a specific purpose. John can’t wait to discover what that purpose is, and this affects everything he does.
  • Sam’s father died when he was eight. At first Sam was very angry with God but then Sam decided to put his future in God’s hands and to trust him. As a result Sam’s intimacy with his heavenly father is growing daily.
  • Katie went with the Sunday Club on a weekend away. There she heard the gospel explained and she became a Christian. She invited Jesus into her life and he has become her friend.
  • Jason stole some stuff at school and got into trouble for it. Then at church he heard how Jesus had died so that he might be forgiven. Jason received forgiveness for his sins and the experience has changed him. He doesn’t need to steal things any more.
  • Polly heard about the Holy Spirit and she asked Jesus to fill her. The encounter with God that followed is something she often talks about.
  • Simon woke up in the middle of the night and found that God was speaking to him. He knew that his mother was going to have another baby and that he must do all that he could to help her when the baby came.
  • On Sundays Jenny looks forward to communion. Usually the children rejoin their parents at the end of the service; Jenny is not allowed to take the wine but she receives the bread with great seriousness. Every week she takes into herself the Bread of life, and Jesus is being formed in her heart.
  • Billy likes talking to God. He learned to do this at Sunday Club and found that when he tried speaking his prayers out loud God seemed very close to him.
  • Susan has learned that God answers her prayers. When she wants something either for herself or others, she always asks God if it is okay to pray. If the answer is ‘yes’ then she goes ahead. Susan’s faith is growing.
  • Philip goes to a school where success in the exams is everything. But Philip listened to what they said at Sunday Club about work being a way of glorifying God, so now he does his work to please God and not please the teachers. The stress has gone and Philip is enjoying his work.
  • At Emma’s school all the girls have best friends, but Emma has no one. At church Emma learned that everyone matters to God so she has decided that everyone will matter to her, even the people who tease her or ignore her. As a result Emma has become one of the most popular girls in her group.
  • Alfie has prayed for his friends and invites them to church at every opportunity. One of his friends has become a Christian and is doing well.
  • Clare learned at church that the Holy Spirit can give power to heal. She asked for this power and she started to pray for her friends when they were sick. One day one of her friends was healed through her prayers.
  • Ed’s hamster died. Ed and his mother held the stiff hamster and prayed; as they prayed bit by bit the hamster came to life.
  • Alice decided to tithe her pocket money. Since she did this she has discovered that she is never short of money.
  • Emily has adopted an African girl from a poor family. Every month she sends money and writes; as a result the African girl is able to go to school.
  • Frankie has decided to commit scripture to memory and he has memorised twenty promises from the Bible. Day by day he lives by those promises.
  • Ellie sets her alarm and gets up every day to pray and read her Bible. She is very confident now that her heavenly father loves her and is with her every day. In her quiet times Ellie often hears God speaking to her.
  • George was having serious doubts about God. Did God even exist? George shared his doubts with the Sunday Club teachers and they helped him to face them. Now George is beginning to know what he believes and why.
  • Anne decided to get baptised by full immersion. All her friends came to the service. Anne feels like a new person.
  • For Andy the best thing about being a Christian is the opportunity to worship God. He is learning the guitar and becoming a good worship leader. The other children love it when Andy leads.
  • At Sunday Club Ruth is often asked to give short talks from the Bible. She is growing in skill and is much appreciated by the others.
Growing Younger can help you to produce children like these.
Growing Younger explains the steps that need to be taken in order to get a good children’s programme going, but to succeed will take determination. TMT is available to walk alongside a church on this journey; we have already done this in a number of places with good results. To find out more, contact us.
Roger Morgan is the Director of The Mathetes Trust, a UK registered charity dedicated to promoting discipleship in the local church. With a background in management studies and over 20 years experience of leading growing churches, Roger also leads our EQUIP mentoring programme for church leaders.

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