We spent 6 months researching the best way to disciple kids and form a Children’s Ministry based on that research, following what scripture teaches us and what we believe is just common sense. Some of the research is based on sociologists’ findings on how we learn (since a disciple=learner), but there have really been two key texts for us:
So with the understanding that discipleship is at the core of what a children’s ministry or a family should be doing, how does sociological, spiritual, and practical research help inform this singular goal?
This is a good place talk about the concept of “the way things are.” When I moved to Hayward, WI over 10 years ago, I set out to discover “the way things were” in this town–things that are part of the cultural milieu and geographical region that are, for the most part, unchangeable. In Hayward, some of them are: after school, organized sports, the Green Bay Packers games, beer, hunting, and snow. It’s probably a good idea not to schedule an activity during a Packer game. You might get Viking fans to show up, but you are fighting against the culture unnecessarily. Now, there might be things to challenge the longer you live in a community. Some things might need to change, but these kind of things take a long time, and are better left for a strategic, overarching plan, rather than knee-jerk plans.
So the question this brings is:
“What are the way things are with kids?”
Further subsidiary questions might be:
- How do different aged children learn?
- What are efficient ways of training children, again, based on developmental norms?
- How long are their attention spans?
- Should you include fun and play? or should the learning environment be specific and strict and focused?
- What are kids interested in? video games? dolls? active games? puzzles? what?
It’s important to ask the question: “What are ‘the way things are’?”
1) Effects of Family Recreation Interaction by Tim Levert. This is a dissertation written by one of the only PhDs in Children’s Ministry in the world, examining how to best disciple and form kids from childhood into adolescence so they embrace a vibrant faith.
2) Hints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumbull. Though written in 1890, this is widely considered the best book ever written on parenting kids in a way that causes them to embrace a relationship with Jesus and His work in our world.
I can only begin to describe the powerful nature of Hints on Child Training as one of the key basis for this community’s research on discipleship and training. This book is well worth the time it would take to read it. As with the dissertation noted above is somewhat helpful as well.
The benefit of a book written over a hundred years ago is that it is available as a free ebook via Google Books.
Your thoughts, critique and questions are welcome in the comments below!