Children’s work in the UK comes in all shapes and sizes. From a village church in the English countryside to a city centre mega church, we talk to the people involved in leading children to God.
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Anna, 22 has been helping lead children’s work at her village church, Kings Church Quantock since she was ten years old. With anything from 2 to 10 children turning up each week and an age range of 3 to 9, it can be difficult to know what to plan for.
But Anna says watching children enjoy the activities at the Somerset church is “amazing”.
“We’ve only got a small number of people at the church but there’s major outreach for the village. At the last Messy Church we were expecting 8 people and 60 came. Seeing the kids enjoy everything is amazing and quite rewarding as well.”
Messy Church has been a runaway success across the country, and now across the globe. Its format allows churches of any size to reach out to local families and help people encounter God and enjoy church, often for the first time. The beginners guide is a bestseller as churches of all denominations join the 1000 congregations already involved in the initiative.
Seeing the kids enjoy everything is amazing and quite rewarding as well
Anna laughs as she recalls some of the “crazy questions” she’s been asked as a children’s worker.
“I had a kid say ‘last night I prayed to God that I could fly and in the morning I couldn’t fly. Why is this? Does God not love me?’ That was a good one! It’s coming up with ways to answer those questions that kids will understand and accept which is fun and sometimes a challenge!”
Small churches like Anna's don’t always have the time and resources to organise their own activities so often depend on a wealth of Christian teaching resources such as Scripture Union’s Tiddlywinks and Xstream.
Moving north toward the capital, I meet Olly and Helen. The husband and wife team led the children’s work at Kensington Temple for 15 years where they were responsible for 1000 kids.
Now the couple have started their own ministry Children Can, which trains children’s workers and provides resources. But numbers aren’t important to Olly.
"It’s not about transforming three children into 300 it’s about transforming three children," he says.
The philosophy of Children Can is simple: Introduce children to God, rather than simply teach them about God.
We want children to continually encounter him so that they would raise up as a crazy generation to do things for him.
"Babies need to have spiritual exposure and children need spiritual experience so they can taste and see that God is good. Then as teenagers they need spiritual adventure and to do something slightly crazy for Jesus.”
"We want children to continually encounter him so that they would raise up as a crazy generation to do things for him."
More than a theory, Olly has many stories to back up his assertion that children can encounter God from a young age. He talks about seeing hundreds of children give their lives to God and witnessing kids give words of knowledge on the street. One 12 year old even ended up preaching the gospel to 90 of his classmates at school.
Olly has been tempted to let the spiritual focus slide and “play church rather than build church”. He advises childrens workers to keep their own prayer life strong, and have a clear vision.
Whether they're working in villages or cities, our Church's children's workers are often unsung heroes. The wealth of resources available to help teach and show children who God is doesn't make working with children easy, but it does help lighten the load.
August 8th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes