Q. What is a Children & Families Ministry Network?
A. Ministry Networks are groups within the CBWC ministry structure that give focus to a particular ministry area. Such groups represent the interests, needs and hopes of these ministry areas within the wider Canadian Baptist denomination and speak into the denomination about issues, concerns and opportunities. The Children & Families Ministry Network group was formed in 2006. It consists of people passionate about how our churches help children and families (both in the church and the neighbourhoods around our churches) know about, and respond to, God’s love and plan.
Q. Who is involved in the CFAM Ministry Network?
A. Representatives from each of the Areas who also reflect a variety of church sizes and locations.
Q. Why is it needed?
A. There has been a tremendous cultural shift in our world during the last 30 years but many churches have not thought about how these have impacted the children & families in their congregations and neighbourhoods. Some churches are wrestling with how to reach children and families who do not normally show an interest in “church” as we know it. Some churches are experiencing diminishing Sunday Schools but have other unique opportunities for outreach and service. Some churches have thriving Sunday Morning Children’s Ministries but have chosen not to do mid week groups or summer programs. The variation in ministry approach is wide and people are seeking to learn from others. The CFAM Network will be a forum to help leaders connect with other leaders and churches for encouragement and support and also to connect with resources they need. It will also be a voice and an advocate for the needs of children & families at the wider denominational level.
Q. Has Children’s Ministry changed because of the cultural shift you referred to?
A. The answer is both a “resounding yes!” and a firm “no”. Yes, it has changed (or should have changed somewhat) in format and approach in response to the contemporary interests and needs of the children in our communities and the way contemporary culture has affected the family. But NO, it hasn’t changed in content – the good news of Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever! Churches who have figured out the equation of how cultural shifts are shaping the family and what that means for their church’s ministries are able to respond and build relationships with families that result in growth.
Q. How does CFAM Ministry Network help with these issues?
A. Our goal is to raise the value of and enhance the effectiveness of Children & Family Ministries in local churches (both large and small) by promoting vision and providing resources and support. We believe it is possible to make a difference in the lives of children and families when we understand the value that Jesus placed on them and how they fit into the whole congregation and wider family of God. The network has representation from a wide variety of churches across the three CBWC Areas. We do not have “magic solutions” to the issues or problems of each church as they seek to become more effective in ministering to children and families, but we want to walk the journey with them, encouraging and resourcing them along the way as much as possible.
Q. What kinds of things do you do?
A. In November 2008 we held a “Growing Stronger Together” workshop in the Heartland (Winnipeg, MB) in order to continue to raise the value and enhance the effectiveness of CFAM in the Heartland. Very soon, we hope to have an increased web-presence, and to develop a “virtual community” where our people can look to each other for ideas and resources regarding Children and Family ministry. In the future, we hope to provide ongoing in-service education for volunteer leaders and paid ministry staff, and we would love to develop, and to see others develop resources that honour our Canadian Baptist traditions and experience. Child and family dedication materials, baptism information & preparation classes for students and summer urban camping (day camp) materials are some of those ideas!
Q. So, whether I am a volunteer in a small church somewhere, or a leader in a larger church in a city, how would you help me?
A. We would encourage you to contact Sherry Bennett your CFAM Coordinator. You may them ask any questions or give your suggestions -she is here to serve YOU!
Q. How can churches and local pastors then benefit from the work you are doing?
A. Become aware yourself of the importance of children and families in your congregation and community, and the vital role of the pastor in supporting their involvement. Read a book that helps you understand the issues that contemporary families are wrestling with in relation to faith. Need ideas? Try: Ivy Beckwith’s book, Postmodern Children’s Ministry or Marva Dawn’s book: Is It A Lost Cause? Having the Heart of God for the Church’s Children, or George Barna’s book entitled Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions.
Make sure any information you receive about the CFAM Ministry Network is passed to someone in your church working directly with children or working with the volunteers who are working with children. This will give us an effective contact with your church.
Attend an event that emphasizes the role of children & families in your church. Better yet, go with your primary leader who works in this area as a way to affirm and encourage them and let them know that you want to see it flourish. Support your leadership to attend a CFAM Ministry event, or go with them!