Q&A with Bishop Paul Butler at the Digital Children conference:
Why is it that most Vicars only receive 1 seminar on children’s ministry in 3 years of full-time training? Wouldn’t disagree with you, keep arguing and don’t seem to get anywhere. Heads of Theological colleges began to take it on board but changing the culture takes time.
In Australia people are licensed as a Children’s Minister or Youth Minister – everything rises and falls on leadership – why are we not empowering on this? The last year or two of CYM has struggled to get its numbers in the Children’s Course and the number of churches that are employing a children’s specialist. If All-Age becomes the sustainable model do the training colleges begin to slim down?
Churches seem to struggle to find the calibre of workers should we employ from abroad? But the Border Agency would not welcome this.
Refreshing to have a Bishop who gets it – don’t take that for granted – for many a children’s worker issues of leadership are real. How do we encourage leadership generally from sentiment and rhetoric to meaningful action? Show me a budget and I will tell you what your focus, but let’s be honest in our accounting so that we include volunteer hours. Honestly don’t know the answer which is one of the frustrations. Chair the Joint Liaison Safeguarding Group between CofE and Methodists – one of the positives is that Bishops are now waking up to the seriousness of the situation and to the wider issue of where are headed with childhood. One of the things might be to find different ways in – coming from another angle people are now willing to speak about The Good Childhood etc. Alongside Safeguarding try Parenting and Grand-Parenting skills.
Youth worker seeking ordination thinks schools and community work has to stop – that you graduate from children’s and youth ministry to focus on the grown-up issues of weddings, funerals and more. Part of that is about placing Ordinands with Vicars and Rectors who get it. It is still depressing to hear that said especially given how we now say bring your business skills, or teacher skills or social work skills. In some Dioceses the do a weekend to train Curates on Children’s and Youth ministry.
Parishes that are having the most significant success are those that are tackling the issues of poverty – for churches doing football etc., they were feeding children, building better homes and more. We can ask for more children’s workers but it is about missiology and the child piece in that. It is not rocket science to look at what works for the community, 8am service was to allow the workers to milk the cows, do the service and then go back to cook lunch whilst the Lord and Lady attend the 10.30am.
Half churches aren’t engaging in children’s and youth work – there is a sense of larger churches growing due to their churches – thereby leading no people to lead that work. How do we solve this? There are schemes to get a part-time worker; maybe it is okay for some churches to not have children’s work as some areas have a demographic where there are very few children and so should focus on the elderly etc., and partner with a local place for the few children; ecumenical partnerships will be increasingly important.
Sticky Faith talks about involvement in all areas of the church being key for faith development, but All-Age Worship is often the worse attended, committed to it as a principle but how do we shake that image. The only way is to shake it up by having an all-age group to plan the all-age worship to think how the different ages etc. work as too often it is child worship not all-age.
We are still focussed on aspirations – children and young people who go to university – half don’t so how do we connect with them? So much is connected to those who go off to university, and we have to go back to Rakes with the Sunday School movement and the Ragged Schools – what is the equivalent for us – Glee Club and where we can raise aspirations.
Greatest cricketer in Viv Richards asking a guy in his congregation who was a poor county cricketer to improve him. How? He watched and spotted and commented it and left it to Viv to make the changes.