In Auckland I visited Karen Warner and Rachel Roche. Karen is the National Team Leader for Baptist Children & Family Ministries. Rachel is conducting research on behalf of Carey Baptist College and also involved in their ministry formation program. I had recently met Karen and Rachel at our “Reimagine Faith Formation” events in Sydney with John Roberto last August. It was great to see them again and we had a wonderful chat.
A New Zealand Children’s Ministry Network has developed among the Baptist, Presbyterian and Anglican Churches and Scripture Union. It exists for mutual support, planning and resourcing. The Bible Society and Messy Church are also part of the network. One of the positive developments is the sharing of training geographically – training events being offered by one member are advertised across all networks. A number of them participated in the Australian “Leaders To Go” Conference in 2015 and this encouraged them to strengthen their national networking across the churches and para-church organisations.
The Baptist Children and Family Ministry website is here. They seek to resource churches through the website, the bimonthly Baptist magazine, a BCFM quarterly newsletter, a monthly email, national gatherings, local cluster groups, and a closed ecumenical Facebook group. They work across 7 regions and have 3 regional coaches.
We talked about a whole range of similar interests – the potential of being an intergenerational church (and the puzzle of why this has surfaced now), the North American “Faith Forward” initiative, looking to engage beyond Sunday mornings, opportunities for engaging children and families with digital technologies, healthy/safe church training, etc. We also talked about their links with Baptist Youth Ministries.
BCFM have produced an excellent Foundations document for churches which provides a vision for ministry with children and 4 foundations. The booklet isn’t available online, but here are the four areas, and the website links to supporting resources here.
- Excellence in Children’s Ministry & Mission
- Church and Home Partnership
- Intergenerational Community
- Integrated Strategy for Faith Formation
It is an excellent, plain language resource that links in well with the kinds of things that the UCA seeks to achieve and with aspects of the Here2Stay principles and “pillars” (many of which are helpful for us). I was encouraged to find how similar we are in relation to the broad vision and framing of ministry with children. Their “foundations” document will be helpful in framing our own national policy for ministry with children (The UCA last did this in 1998 – acknowledgement to John Emmett and the synod people at that time).
Scripture Union have a Children’s Ministry blog here.
Stay tuned for my visits to the Anglicans and Methodists. I’ve been given a positive jolt to be more proactive within the UCA through my role in relation to ministry with children. In my head it has always been vital, but I need work alongside our synod people to add some national leverage to this shared passion for ministry and mission with younger generations.