Last time in children’s ministry we looked at Westerhoff’s diagram. Today we look at how this applies to the following age groupings:

Preschoolers
For children in this age group we want to create an environment where they feel loved and accepted in order for them to develop a positive image of God who is loving and caring. This is done through appropriate stories from the Bible and by the modelling of the teacher. There will be opportunities for children to experience God through singing and being led in prayer. Also at this age children are learning to trust other caregivers so it is particularly important that children are safe in the church’s children’s ministry.

Primary School – Kinder to Year 3
Children in this age group will tend to imitate spiritual behaviour rather than own their own faith. This is to be encouraged even if it seems contrived as children need freedom to experiment with various expressions of faith. It is important that the significance others in their lives, teachers and parents, are good role models. At this stage we want them to feel like they belong and that they are able to be involved and make a contribution.

Primary School – Year 4 to Year 6
Children in this age group are moving into the critical area of owning their own faith and joining the church. Regardless of previous commitments of faith, they are really only now old enough to make an informed commitment. It is important not to assume children have done this but be prepared to regularly challenge these children.

Youth Group – Year 7 to Year 9
It is important that leaders provide an accepting and safe environment for young people to examine their faith. They need to be allowed to question faith and search for answers that satisfy them. Leaders need to take questions seriously and provide both spiritual and intellectual answers. Given the right environment these young people can get to the point of owning their own faith.