There have been a few occasions over the last few months when a parishioner has come to me with an idea that's so obviously fabulous that I've metaphorically kicked myself for not thinking of it.
I think each of us have one or two pet theories, ideas, projects, etc., and use those as the basis for all our thinking and planning. Sometimes we can forget there are whole other categories of things to do.
So here's a little checklist to help us remember to break outside our own mental boxes sometimes. Some of these may be more relevant for older children and youth groups than for nursery and primary-aged children.
What opportunities are there for children and young people in your church to do the following?
1. Have quality Sunday School time, including stories, worship, and a non-proscriptive activity?
2. Learn about and celebrate the festivals of the Christian year?
3. Engage in All-Age worship that includes them in meaningful ways?
4. Take a role as a leader of worship?
5. Assist in worship in other ways, e.g. as a sidesperson or greeter?
6. To be involved with decision-making in the church, e.g. as a youth rep on the PCC?
7. To have their thoughts and opinions shared with the church as a whole? (note: I'm not talking about putting a child on the spot during a sermon and asking them to come up with something cute and/or profound in the moment. I'm talking more about a process - talking with the children and young people over time about prayer, or about Jesus' life, or about what the church should be doing better - and then sharing the results of their thoughts with the congregation or PCC.)
8. To teach others? (i.e., give a presentation about Fairtrade issues in place of the sermon during Fairtrade fortnight)
9. To have their artistic achievements seen by the wider congregation? This can include visual art as well as drama and music. One youth group I know prepared a modern dramatic re-telling of The Prodigal Son and did it in place of the Gospel on Sunday (you can see it here.) Children's banners can be used in worship, children's work displayed in your church hall, children can sing and dance in worship, and so on.
10. To become involved in charitable projects?
10a. To plan and research their own charitable projects.
10b. To get involved in large national charitable projects, e.g. Run for Life, Circle the City with Christian Aid, etc.
11. To be involved in cultural events that may have some resonance with the Christian faith, e.g. trips to see films, plays or exhibits that can spur discussion. Our youth group had a movie night with The Hunger Games and then used this study guide to talk about its relevance to Christianity.
12. To be seen in a positive light by the congregation as a whole?
13. To get involved in Diocesan or national events, meeting Christians their own age fro