I tried some ‘prophetic art’ with my children’s group recently (stay with me on this one). I know that’s an ambitious way of describing it, but in reality it’s just giving the children some space to be alone with God and asking them to draw a picture of what they were thinking about.
It took me several weeks to be brave enough to try it out, as all I could think of were the reasons it wouldn’t work: they would just draw pictures of dinosaurs (something of a default position with my lot), they wouldn’t be able to keep still to do the quiet reflective bit, some new children would come who wouldn’t have any idea what’s going on… you get the idea.
Eventually, we had a go and what do you know? It was great. The children all enjoyed the time of stillness in total silence for a good few minutes, some really interesting pictures were drawn, some great conversations were had and the couple of new children who came joined in fine.
Sometimes I think we lack a spirit of adventure in the world of children’s work. We can get stuck in a rut: things kind of work so we keep going with them. In a recent piece of research we carried out at the Diocese of London, we discovered that projects plateau after two years if they don’t keep innovating and changing (you can read the full research findings here).
While it’s important not to feel that each session somehow has to top the last, we do need to keep pushing forward and exploring what we could do to help the children think more deeply about God. We’ve been thinking this month about what a ‘successful’ Sunday School looks like – you can read Alex Taylor’s five characteristics here, to help you keep growing and shaping your groups.
To this end I really do think that we should applaud Scripture Union for the adventure that has led to the Guardians of Ancora, which we’ve gone to town on in this issue. Childhood is always changing and children inhabit the digital world far more naturally than we do; you only have to listen to the debates at the school gates about how much ‘Minecraft time’ children should be allowed to understand this. On this basis it’s brilliant to see this new initiative seeking to go there and meet children where they are; obviously trying something new like this is tricky and fraught with risk but I would like to support them for going for it, and I hope that as the children’s ministry community we can get behind this. If it succeeds it could be a very significant new thing for the children in our groups. We talk a lot about how we need to find what children’s ministry will look like in the future, and I have a feeling that this might just be part of it.