The Future of Children’s Ministry

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“By 2010, everything that marketers know today about elementary-aged kids will be completely outdated. There will be a new generation of elementary-school students — and a whole new generation of elementary schools.” — American Demographics magazine

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Say hello to the next generation — Generation Z — born from 2003 on. Their needs are different, they learn differently, and what they want from your children’s ministry is different. If you’ve ever played Hide-and-Seek, you know the goal is to find people who don’t want to be found. It’s a favorite game for children. But Hide-and-Seek is no child’s game when it comes to understanding the hidden characteristics of a generation that’s still in diapers and just learning to walk. Seeking hidden generational trends is a notoriously frustrating proposition with a shifting and ever-changing culture. Often in children’s ministry we discover that the ministry we’ve created for one generation is
outdated and ineffective for the next generation. And as we seek the hidden trends, we lose precious time in making a difference in kids’ lives. How then do we as children’s ministers keep up with the trends that impact children from generation to generation?

Children’s Ministry Magazine sought and found the hidden trends that’ll impact your children’s ministry in the next 10 years. If you prepare now for these emerging trends, your ministry will be ready “to seek and to save” children with Jesus’ help. Take a look at the top six trends that’ll impact the future of your children’s ministry — and discover what you can do now to prepare for Generation Z.

Trend 1: Extreme Racial Diversity

Diversity is on the verge of an explosion in America’s schools. According to American Demographics magazine, between 2001 and 2010 the number of Hispanic children ages 5 to 9 will increase 21 percent, and 10- to 14-year-olds 29 percent. The number of Asian students ages 5 to 9 will increase 22 percent, and 10- to 14-year-olds 31 percent. The number of non-Hispanic white elementary school children will decrease by 8 percent for children
ages 5 to 9 and 9 percent for children ages 10 to 14. The number of non-Hispanic black elementary school kids will decrease 3 percent for children ages 5 to 9 and 10 percent for children ages 10 to 14. The face of your children’s ministry will continue to be multicultural. Gene Roehlkepartain, senior advisor at the nonprofit Search Institute, says, “All children’s ministry leaders need to re-examine their ministries to determine how welcoming and engaging
they are to children and families from many different cultures.”
Address the issue of diversity in these areas:

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  • Music — Use music from different cultures.
  • Imagery — Use images all cultures find appealing. Take a look at your curriculum and resources. Are they
    an accurate mirror of your community?
  • Language — Use the languages represented in your community for special music, teaching, and print
    communication. Also understand that not all words or concepts translate clearly to children who speak a different language. An ongoing dialogue is the best solution to this challenge.
  • Values — Every culture has underlying values that affect the way people perceive all of life. For example, at one multicultural church, one culture’s value of timeliness was flexible — being late was no big deal. Another culture’s value believed it was a sin to be late. Needless to say, until these two cultures understood each other better, there was conflict. Learn about the values of the cultures you minister alongside.

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