From one rector to another
The rector’s task is huge.
Like the apostle Paul, we face ‘daily the pressure of [our] concern for … the church'. And, yet the stresses are multifaceted. Here's just a few things we're balancing each week:
- Personal Bible study
- Bible study groups
- Kids' church
- Ministering to the broken
- New people, SRE … etc etc.
Then there is the significant stress of setting up and maintaining a system to produce a quality, edifying, faithful service at least 52 times a year … and we haven’t even begun to consider the responsibilities of being a watchman and a steward, a shepherd and a teacher!
An extra burden or a unique opportunity?
With the weight and importance of all of the above (and more), the temptation might be to look at Growing Faith Week 2017 as a sundry conference. It could easily be relegated to the category of ‘that would be nice, but not essential’.
You will have to judge if that is the right category for you and your ministry at this time, but before you do, please read on and consider this little story of a small change we made at church that has beautifully revolutionised our appreciation of intergenerational ministry (the key focus of Growing Faith Week).
Intergenerational Ministry – beyond the kids talk
We were so proud when we sent a person to Youthworks College – our little church had taken a step forward in mission – we were now training a Youth minister!
Soon he came with questions and so began our training as a church.
‘Why do we separate out the kids and youth from church so much?’
‘Age appropriate learning’ came my reply.
‘Then when do the generations ever mix – like in the way God has made families to mix?’
‘Umm, I suppose at morning tea and … err … we have a kid’s talk.’
‘Soo, that good it’s not just a filler segment then – but it is a shame there are some who time their arrival for after the kids talk. And it’s a shame it is all one-way traffic: adults to kids – how can we integrate kids more into the life of our church for the benefit of the adults and not just the kids?’
And so began a desire to change the culture at church so that we would foster more intergenerational interaction and ministry. We wanted all adults to take an interest in the spiritual progress of all the kids. We wanted to work out how we could get the kids to minister to the adults in church.
So, we got to work and made a few changes:
- Painted a handball court
- Installed a basket ball hoop
- Set up an outdoor play storage box and encouraged all ages to play together at morning tea.
- We had youth and little ones playing cricket down the church driveway.
Suddenly it was not just the Sunday school teachers talking with the little ones.
But then we went a step further and began to consider how we might get the kids to minister to the adults. That's when it dawned on us, ‘why don’t we end the kids talk segment with a child praying instead of the person who gave the talk?'
Other adults would minister to the kids by giving a talk, taking an interest in them and asking them later what they have learned. Kids would minister to the whole church (peers and adults) with a prayer in church usually pre-pared with (not by) mum and dad. Simple, effective, often cute, but so so encouraging for the whole body. And it did not stop there.
How could intergenerational ministry impact your church?
Yes, the rector’s task is huge, but it must include a consideration of ministry to and by little ones and older ones to one another. That’s what Growing Faith Week is designed to help you do. It consists of three main activities for three key stakeholders.
- House Conference for Children’s and Youth Ministers.
- Intergenerational Forum for Rectors and Senior staff.
- Growing Faith Conference for everyone, especially families, children and invested adults.
Mark Growing Faith Week in your diary and check out the websites above for more information.
Rev Antony Barraclough is Senior Ministor at St Matthew's Anglican Church, West Pymble. His passion is to see people of all ages place their faith in Jesus Christ and then go on to maintain that faith.