Thursday, March 8, 2012

Time to fly

“Vision comes from individuals not from corporate leadership (sessions)” says my visionary colleague Rev Mark Chapman of Clevedon Presbyterian Church in Auckland, New Zealand.  “And church leaders need to recognise the vision of individuals and give them permission to fly.” 

Unfortunately I still too often hear despondent visionary people say:  “I dreamed of doing XYZ but my minister or session or church wouldn’t let me!”
One persistent leader said to me:  “I’ve decided the best thing to do regarding the introduction of new “Kids Friendly” initiatives badly needed in our church, is simply to go ahead in a decisive but agreeable way, smile sweetly, and act as if all things are possible (once we had our minister’s and session’s approval).   This way even the most negative opponents suddenly “get it” and contribute to helping children belong and participate.”  Hallelujah!
A “Kids Friendly” church requires the whole congregation to find ways to respond to Jesus’ commandment to  “let the children come”.  When everyone in the embraces the Kids Friendly ethos, many visionary children’s “ministers” emerge and fly.  Some have a vision for serving community, others have a passion for sharing their faith with children, others pastorally care for families and many remember children’s names and make an effort to talk to them.

Becoming a “Kids Friendly” church often requires a change of culture and to effect culture change in your church you need three things.
First there needs to be dissatisfaction with the status quo i.e. more people should be dissatisfied with the way the church is for children and families, than satisfied. (So give people a chance to express their views.) 
Then you need a shared vision and dream of how things could be and of course you need energy, passion and positivity to realise your vision. 
So if you have people with a vision for ministering to the children of your community in your church, encourage them to grow their wings and fly!
And talking of flying.  It’s three days until I (with hubby Paul and son Blake) fly to Europe to commence my study leave.  I am sharing the Kids Friendly vision with Council for World Mission’s European partners in London and then start my semester at Westminster College, Cambridge on 20 April.  Hopefully lots of thought provoking Kids Friendly ideas will flow from that.

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