Anglican Children and Youth
Ministries Commission (ACYMC)
A church with no kids
Emma Grant, Member of the Anglican Children and Youth Ministries Commission (ACYMC)
How do we support children and youth ministry when we have no young people in our church?
Like a pub with no beer, a church with no kids sounds outrageous, yet for so many parishes around our Diocese this is the reality. Perhaps someone brings their grandkids along, or families might attend at Christmas and Easter, but there is no regular contact between the church and young people. In this sort of situation it may seem that children’s and youth ministry is no on the to-do list, not something to even think about. How can we disciple and care for young people on their faith journeys when they don’t come to church?
I think we need to reconsider and adjust the boundaries of children’s and youth ministry as being not tied to our church buildings and services that occur at church, but something we live out in all our lives as Christians. We don’t stop being a Christian when we leave the church building, we are Christians every moment of our lives, whether we are at the local shops, with our extended families, at the sports club or with friends. In our lives there are moments for us to engage in ministry with young people, to care for them, offer a listening ear and thoughtful word of advice. We each connect with young people in our lives in various location and times, and these are just as valid as Sunday morning for engaging in ministry.
We also need to expand our ideas about what ministering to young people looks like. It is Sunday school lessons, youth services and camps, but also so much more. It is listening to young people, considering and thoughtfully answering their questions, and encouraging them on their faith journeys. I understand the difficulties in relating to children and young adults, it can seem like they are just so different than the way we were as kids. The world may have changed, and they may seem to be another species, but actually young people today have the same timeless quests of belonging and acceptance, discovering their identity, and finding their path that have plagued them through the ages. Some things about young people are timeless, and therein lies the opportunities to connect with them and minister to them in the ups and downs of growing up.
If your church isn’t packed with children, young adults and their families please do not despair. The future of the church is our young people, they might just not be in our church buildings just yet. In the meantime, we still have a job to do in caring for them as they develop their own personal faith, learn what it means to be a person of God, and find themselves in the moments that shape us. They need us to be a witness in a world that is increasingly lacking in Christian witness, to open our hearts and homes when individualism and self-centredness is on the rise, and try to love them as Christ loves us.
If you’re interested in learning more about children’s and youth ministry why not attend the ACYM Breakfast on Saturday 9 September?
It is a chance to meet like-minded people from churches across the Diocese as we come together for a morning of learning, fellowship and encouragement.
Saturday 9 September 2023
8am - 12 noon
Swan Valley Adventure Centre
Registration information to come.