Friday, December 18, 2009

ways into small missional community [11] children and community

here's the next in my series for the small missional communities project:

In the Gospels we find the community-maker Jesus giving a high priority to children. He emphasized the importance of caring for children; he seemed to bless them at every opportunity; and he saw them as offering a role model for people of all ages.

So if children are already or potentially part of your community’s life it’s good to give attention to what might emerge. A route often taken is to offer specific things for children, but I’m really interested in finding ways to enable children to be part of community, helping to shape the community, and being shaped by it.

Here’s a few starter suggestions from my own experience as to how this emphasis might look...

• create a child-friendly way into any action of conversation that the community is involved in
• rather that getting someone to take children off parents’ hands create a culture where parents and children contribute, learn and care together
• work at the community’s story-telling [in all media], find your gifted storytellers, and tell great stories
• give an central place to play [for everyone] as being both a way to learn and create community
• create places and times of stillness for all the community. Children and adults alike can be encouraged to enter stillness, so discover ways to make stillness part of the community’s culture, a gift to everyone.
• make sure that proper attention is paid to the care of children - see the legal requirements as just the starting point for their care

Of course there are challenges, including changing seasons of life, varying personal learning preferences, and different parenting styles. But there’s something really hopeful about community where children are genuinely enabled to play their part...

peace to you


Alison said...

Hi Ian, I am really interested that you have posted this and that I happened to read it today, the same day that our church pastor has posted an interpretation on the ovc website of the passage in Matthew about the lost sheep. He states that it seems that Jesus was referring to the lost sheep as the children who wander off from their faith communities because they are not being fully looked after spiritually. Our pastor has posted this because we are experiencing difficulties in our community with finding people willing or able to teach and mentor our young people. It is and has been a great concern for many of us especially those with young children and teenagers. I would love to see a different approach to including them and teaching them in a way that will captivate them and show them the value of following Jesus. I would love to talk more about your suggestions and the experiences you may have had. We really need something new to happen in our church.

Ian Adams said...

hi Alison. Thanks for this. I'd be very happy to have a conversation. Suggest you email me for a start [go to my profile for my email]. Looking forward to conversing with you...
Peace to you Ian

Tim Jeffries said...

This is another point close to our heart and experience. When we started there were no children in our community. Since that time we have had 4 children born and a family with 2 children join. We have also found that many children in our neighbourhood seem to be drawn to us, so we spend lots of time with kids.

I'm particularly interested in trying to work out how we can worship well as a community while including and encouraging the children and other young people to participate.

Ian Adams said...

hi Tim - many thanks for this and your comments on other of the 'ways into' posts. Sounds like we are taking similar paths. It would be good to have your presence on the small missional communities online network that I facilitate. It's proving to be a good way to share stories. If it appeals please take a look and think about joining: you go to the CMS 'Kindling' network, join that, then follow the link to join Small Missional Communities group.
peace to you today

Tim Jeffries said...

Thanks Ian. I've tried to join, but am just waiting to be approved of. ;-)

Ian Adams said...

that's good Tim - we had to introduce approval because we were getting some wierd spam stuff - my friend at CMS Jeremy does the approval - I'll check it's coming through and look forward to seeing you on there!
peace Ian