Here is a list of questions concerning children’s and family ministry in small churches with which I am currently wrestling.
1. If the average size church is about 125 people, and a church that size typically only has a volunteer or part-time children’s ministry leader, what does this imply for the prospects of establishing a more formal family ministry focus* in the church, much less a strong children’s ministry? As a corollary, is a formal family ministry focus even necessary? Why? Why not?
2. Do we know what the spiritual and practical needs are in the homes of families we serve? If not, how do we learn without prying? To what extent do we rely on God’s discernment? To what extent do we simply ask and find ways to observe?
3. How might we navigate an emphasis on family ministry while also embracing a strong missional focus to the local community which reaches out to unchurched kids? How might family ministry become missional?
4. To what extent is discipleship mission? As a corollary, is discipleship something that only happens when a person is a believer (by evangelical standards, having prayed the sinner’s prayer and begun a life in Christ)? Or, is discipleship something that begins at the first moment God begins to work on a person’s heart, often through the ministry of a believer? Is it an either or situation? Why?
5. What metrics should be defined to indicate optimal children’s and family ministry operation? Are they the same for large churches and small? If not, then what is different? Why? What is unique about the small church context? How should this inform tactical considerations as the small church positions itself for patterns of numerical growth? How should it inform their leadership when they are in numerical decline?
6. How should sacrament play a part in the life of a child? What might evangelicals learn from liturgical groups in this regard? Likewise, what might liturgic groups learn from evangelicals?
7. What is worship? Where should it occur? How should it occur? More specifically, by whom, if at all, should worship be directed? Why? Is it possible for true worship to occur outside of the sanctuary of a local church? Why? Why not? To what extent can it occur within the home of a family?
*By formal family ministry focus, I am meaning attention has been given in terms of paid support staffing and/or budgeted programming.
I will be adding to this list soon, but this serves as a beginning discussion generator to stimulate thinking.