Each year, the Diocese put on an event, Creating Sparks, for those who work with children. Kris Lawrence and I have been several times and always find inspiration and affirmation. I thought that I would share with you some bits, which I found thought provoking and relevant for all of us.
The keynote speaker told us about some research, just off the press, about why we lose so many youngsters – and why some churches keep them. The research shows that children value being given real roles in the church – including leadership. They want to feel their voice is heard. This includes making sure Church is a safe place to ask questions. However, the thing which hit me was the main finding – the value of relationships. Young people stay if they make relationships, not just within their own age group, but with the wider congregation. At St. George’s we’ve been looking at building community – it seems to me this is all the same thing. Kids are just small people! We all like to make friends but we also need other sorts of relationships. Many children don’t see their grandparents all that often and many older people miss having children around. Church is family – so let’s build a strong one! Let’s value the differences – we recognise not all worship is going to be to everyone’s taste, kids and grown-ups may need different input but if everyone is included somewhere, relationships can blossom.
I went to three workshops, but the same message leapt out at me from each – A Church with strong relationships is a Church that grows and where the Spirit of the Lord can work.