Last week, I shared some thoughts about the next 10 years in children’s ministry. Many of those thoughts come from examining the trends of the past 10 years in children’s ministry. If you’ve been in ministry for a few years, you have likely noticed a few of these changes. Some of these changes have been subtle, while some have been dramatic.
In her book, Nothing Less, Jana Magruder breaks down recent research on the American family and reveals the top influences of spiritual health. The research upholds a few trends that many in children’s ministry have been feeling for a number of years.
One of the trends that has affected children’s ministry over the past 10 years is
Lesser Engagement and Lower Attendance
Here are some of the stats from Nothing Less:
- Only 35% of American Christians find that church attendance is an essential part of being a Christian.
- When asked what makes a good parent, only 26% of Dads and Moms said that being a committed Christian was an important influence on parenting.
The reality is that families who once attended church 2-3 times per week are now attending 2-3 times per month. This leads to a different type of engagement with children and families that lead to many challenges.
Another trend that has negatively impacted the work of children’s ministry is:
Lower Biblical Literacy
Here are a few more stats from Nothing Less:
- 89% of American households own a Bible, but 53% of Americans have read only a handful of Bible passages.
- Of Protestant churchgoers, 54% say that they have read the Bible once a week or less.
- When asked why they don’t read the Bible more often, the most common response (35%) was “I don’t know.”
Sadly, we don’t value the Bible as a source of hope and instruction. In an age of information, the Bible has taken a back seat to Google, 24/7 news channels, and input from peers on social media. There is a great need for expository preaching and Biblical teaching in our churches in order to ensure the next generation does not forget the mighty works of God!
But it’s not all negative. There are some trends in children’s ministry that suggest we are moving in a healthy direction and providing those in ministry a great toolbox for reaching children and families.
One of the positive trends in the last 10 years of children’s ministry is
An Emphasis on Family Ministry: Church + Home
Pastors and churches are getting serious about using every available resource to pass faith on to children. The last 10 years has seen a major increase in churches hiring Family Pastors or Next-Gen Pastors to focus on parent-child discipleship. There is a rise in equipping classes focused on teaching parents how to lead the discipleship of their children in the home, and the church has focused more on creating resources to connect what happens on Sundays to the rest of the week.
Another positive trend in the last 10 years is the
Plethora of Children’s Ministry Curriculum Options
It’s not just churches and pastors who have sharpened their focus on families, but writers and publishers are also taking up the mission. The ability for digital distribution of curriculum has allowed publishers to produce loads and loads of more content. It’s not all perfect or useful for every church, but there are many more options available today than there were 10 years ago! Those options allow children’s ministries to customize content that helps them reach children and families in their community and context.