We interviewed Nick Harding, Children's Advisor for Southwell and Nottingham and author of many books on children's ministry. Who is one of the key speakers for the Life Call children's ministry event.
Q. Why did you agree to speak at this event?
I love the opportunity to speak about the importance and joy of ministry with and for children, and so it was great to be asked to do that for the diocese.
Q. Who will benefit from coming?
I’m hoping that lots of people from different backgrounds and ages will come to hear about the challenges that children face, and how each one of us can make a difference. I don’t know of many people who can’t do anything to help change the lives of children, and all of us in churches have a huge opportunity to contribute.
Q. Why is children’s ministry so important?
We know that Jesus was radical in welcoming children and valuing them for who they are. The church hasn’t always been so good at that, and we have lost generations of children. Now is the time...possibly the last opportunity...to welcome and value children, helping them discover Jesus for themselves and planting in them the seeds of life-long faith.
Q. The recent CofE report from anecdote to evidence highlights engaging with children and young people as a priority. How should we be responding to this agenda?
We have to take this seriously, and invest in children’s ministry and any work in our churches that reaches families. This may mean we need to change the way we worship, the welcome we offer to those on the fringe of church, and even let go of some of the traditions we hold dear. Progress may mean sacrifice, but it has to be worth it - churches grow that are committed to children and young people.
Q. What makes a good Children’s minister?
The key to this is to understand that as we teach and minister we also learn! Leaders who are open to learn from the children they work with, and commit to doing everything they can to see them grow in faith, are great! But we can all learn (however young or old we are), and see our lives as well as children’s lives changed by working with the young.
Q. How did you know you were called to work with Children?
For some there’s a deep sense of this feeling right, while others end up doing children’s ministry almost by accident! I think it’s important to test callings, so I’d always encourage people to have a go and see what happens! But beware – children’s ministry is so good that it’s addictive!
Q. What excites you about working with children?
So many things excite me....but here’s the key! For me, the main thing is to see lives changed by the good news of Jesus. That could be something as simple as a heartfelt prayer written by a child who is going through turmoil, or someone who hears the gospel, commits themselves to follow Jesus, and then goes on to shine the light of Christ amongst their friends and family.
Q. What are you looking forward to at this event?
I’m looking forward to meeting some great people, seeing smiles and hearing laughter, and planting the seeds of children’s ministry in the minds of many people. There really is nothing that comes close to the fun, challenge, and deep joy that children offer us, and to have the opportunity to work with them is a privilege something to be valued and enjoyed!