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Partnering with Families

Messy Church

Messy ChurchFor the past three years I have been exploring ways of doing Messy Church, incorporating its key principles and values into other things that I do with children and families and working with a number of corps around the territory as they wrestle with providing church in a different format.

This momentum has seen 43 Salvo delegates join me at the recent Messy Church day with Lucy Moore (Messy Church founder) and more than 100 other representatives from churches around the country. It is exciting to see that our churches are looking for different ways to connect with people in our communities.

I was thrilled to meet with Lucy the day before the conference; she was so generous with her time and passion and I loved talking ‘Messy’ things with her. The two key messages that came from this was that Messy Church is not ‘just for children’—it is for all people and has been especially helpful in allowing playgroup dads and other men to engage with church. Secondly, Messy Church is not ‘a way to get people to come to Sunday church’—it is church. I look forward to continuing this journey with both Lucy and those in our corps who are exploring this very exciting new format. Go to www.messychurch.org for more information or email me at sonia.jeffrey@aus.salvationarmy.org

On the website you will find heaps of resources, ideas, ways to connect, a blog of messy happenings, downloads etc

Family Worship

'Children are not passive receivers of an already completed picture of God. They are artists, painting their picture from the colours and with the instruments - experiences, ideas, and insights - available to them.' (Stonehouse & May, Listening to Children on the Spiritual Journey)

This quote says that our children use the information they hear and the experiences they have, to formulate their picture of God. It is so important that we provide our children with rich and engaging environments, conversations and relationships to help support and influence them on this faith journey. These elements should be found in the home and in the church and in a variety of activities within the church community. Opportunities to involve families together in the exploration and worship of God should be a priority in all of our churches.

This section seeks to:

  • encourage you each to think about the importance of providing those rich, multi-age environments and experiences within your church community;
  • provide links and resources to be used in family services;
  • provide suggestions and resources for interactive stories/messages to be included in worship.

Note that family services should be church services with just that focus: families. They are not services with stories and songs and activities aimed just at children; they are genuine all-age services with elements for family members of all ages.

Home & Beyond

Home & Beyond is a key section within the new Junior Soldier material as well as in First Steps- Early Childhood Curriculum and is an important philosophy that we promote to anyone connecting with children and families.

Home & Beyond helps children take what they have learnt (at church) home to continue the conversation. How can we help and equip children and their parents to continue these faith conversations at home, and help to make such conversations a normal part of everyday life?

We all need to think about the way we engage not only with the children in our programs but, more so, how we help to connect and link the content into their everyday life, beyond what happens at church. It is important that we help and support parents and give them the language and tools to nurture their child's spiritual journey.

Some key resources to support this way of thinking are the books:

If you would like someone to chat to about what this might look like for you in your ministry with children and their families, either contact your divisional children's ministry representative or send me an email.