Rethinking Children's Ministry: A Research Paper

"Rethinking Children's Ministry at the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Light of the Missio Dei" is a research paper that I've written for a course titled, "Theological Foundations for Congregational Vitalization."

My research question was, What are some of the values, attitudes and concerns that exist among the people of SJE that might shape our Sunday children’s ministry?

In this paper I explore a cross-section of literature including:

Bunge, Marcia J., Terence E. Fretheim, and Beverly Roberts Gaventa. The Child in the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2008.

Going, Nancy S. “Mission in the First Third of Life: Human Development or Missional Formation?”. Chap. 6 In Cultivating Sent Communities: Missional Spiritual Formation, edited by Dwight J. Zscheile. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2012.

McNeal, Reggie. Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church. 1st ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009.

Miller-McLemore, Bonnie J. In the Midst of Chaos: Caring for Children as Spiritual Practice. The Practices of Faith Series. Kindle ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2007.

Zscheile, Dwight J. The Agile Church: Spirit-Led Innovation in an Uncertain Age. Kindle ed. New York: Morehouse Publishing, 2014.

I also conducted a survey of the congregation around various themes including, (1) children’s presence in worship with adults; (2) issues pertaining directly to Sunday children’s programming; (3) issues pertaining to invitation, welcome and evangelism; and finally, (4) various specific Children’s programming curriculum options.

Some findings included:

  • a high value of the presence of children with adults, especially for the Eucharist;
  • need to clarify the value of the presence of children in worship for the sake of parents;
  • a desire for more time for Sunday children's program;
  • generally positive views on Sunday children's ministry;
  • importance of a culture of learning, children and adults; 
  • improvements suggested for Sunday children's ministry.

The paper is available here.