The findings of a major survey on children’s ministry in Connor Diocese were launched at Connor Synod. They revealed some fascinating facts about how children view their time in church and the dedication of their leaders.
The research was conducted by Connor Diocesan Training Co-ordinator Peter Hamill, who launched the report, researcher Mrs Margaret Fullerton and Prof Leslie Francis of Warwick University.
One of the key findings is that girls enjoy Sunday School more than boys. Children show a definite interest in developing faith, but their interest in Sunday School peaks aged nine or 10, and then declines.
The report found leaders were very dedicated to their work, but need more support in developing their own faith, more time to listen to children and help them develop their faith, and more opportunities to access training.
The report authors determined there is a need for a diocesan vision to show ways of integrating children’s ministry into the full life of the church and a need to value children for who they are and not what they might become.
In relation to Sunday School, 41 per cent of children said it was ‘sometimes boring’ while 43 per cent said it was ‘sometimes interesting.’ Children aged seven to nine are happier in Sunday School than those aged 10-12.
As far as church itself goes, more than 50 per cent of children admitted they sometimes found services boring, but a large number said church was friendly. When asked about worship at home, 34 per cent said they prayed at home, 13 per cent said they read the bible at home, and 19 per cent talk about God at home every week.
Other findings reveal the children like meeting their friends in Sunday School, they were positive about the adults who work and worship with them, and in terms of their physical environment, comfy seats seemed a priority for good comments!
When asked what they least liked about their church, the children’s comments ranged from having no separate Sunday School room, to ‘long and boring’ worship.
The report includes a view from clergy on the current state of children’s ministry in our parishes, issues that arise, and potential ways forward.
Leaders were questioned on their work with children and their attendance at training events. Of the 196 who completed the survey, 80 per cent were female. Among other things, the findings revealed that 57 per cent miss part of church due to children’s ministry, 22 per cent have never met with leaders outside the children’s group, and 72 per cent had not attended training events in the previous year.
Ninety eight per cent said they were involved in children’s ministry in order to build positive relationships with children. The same percentage wanted to bring children to a faith in Jesus. Ninety seven per cent enjoy being a leader, but 37 per cent admitted they took on the task because there was no one else to do it. More than 71 per cent felt their church appreciated them and what they do.
Nick Harding, Children’s Advisor to Nottingham Diocese, has been asked to support the practical implementation of the strategy, and will attend a series of meetings organised by the Bishop of Connor due to take place across the diocese. A children’s think-tank will also visit parishes to talk to children.
The survey results were first published in booklet form. Results were taken from two dissertation papers which will shortly be available for download.