by Jodi Brook

At Grow Ministries, we often encourage congregations to rethink their ministry to children, young people and their families. But what does ‘rethinking’ ministry involve?

We frequently begin training days with a question: Who or what has influenced your life of faith? Responses often include parents, grandparents, pastors, Sunday school teachers, mentors, friends, Bible studies or Christian camps.

These answers tell us that across decades, geographical locations, and in different sizes of congregations, relationships are among the most important influences on our faith.

We often put energy into programs for children and young people that provide learning and fun but may exclude them from getting to know the wider congregation. Therefore, our rethinking needs to emphasise relationships first and programs second.

So, how can we build relationships with young people in our congregations that help to build connections and a sense of belonging?

Grow Ministries developed 10 Guiding Principles to help efforts in creating effective practices that support ministry to children, young people and their families. This is intergenerational ministry, as it requires the efforts of all generations and brings benefits to all generations.


  1. Leadership – Leaders in homes and congregations have a strong understanding of the nature and practices of effective child, youth and family ministry, and their role within it.
  2. Intergenerational – Meaningful intergenerational church experiences are intentional and valued.
  3. Faith at Home – Faith is integrated into family identity and practice.
  4. Mentoring – Children and young people have multiple adult mentors of vital faith.
  5. Lifelong Faith Formation – Use the NCLS Research framework of church vitality to assess nine core qualities and three attendance measures.
  6. Peer Relationships – Faith formation is encouraged by building Christian relationships through quality, age-specific ministry.
  7. Personal Crisis – People of all ages are engaged in a Christian community that provides support during times of personal crisis.
  8. Gifts and Talents – Opportunities are given to discover and express gifts and talents.
  9. Acts of Service – Opportunities are given to participate in acts of service that show the love of Christ.
  10. Missional – Ministry practices and approaches have a strong missional focus.

Go to and click on each principle for ideas and resources.


Don’t feel like you need to do everything at once. Rather look at the guiding principles list as a menu of opportunities. Think about how God has gifted you and how you could serve a young person in your congregation, family or community.

A great place to start is simply getting to know one person a little better.

Offer to help at youth events, invite a young person to visit your small group. Ask them to speak about how God is working in their lives. Be prepared to share with them also. Become a prayer partner or a pen pal with a young person. May God bless us as we continue to be faithful servants of God’s mission in this world.

Jodi Brook is Director of Grow Ministries.

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