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/ 14 May 2019

How to Bridge the Transition Between Children and Youth Ministry

Katie O’Conor gives the highlights from our multi-speaker workshop, aimed at creating well-supported transitions from childhood to adolescence in our work with young people.

We had a great day on 10 May as we gathered with a range of Children, Youth and Family Ministers to discuss the challenge of helping young people transition between children’s and youth ministry in the church.

It’s a topic that anyone who works with young people finds difficult to navigate well, but each church community faces the challenge in different ways. With that in mind, it was great to gather and discuss together what has worked, what hasn’t and what doing it effectively could look like.

The voice of the child

Rob Barward-Symmons from Ridley’s London teaching centre unpacked his research on the topic and thought from other youth work research. A big emphasis of his research was about hearing the voice of the child. He challenged us to think about how we are actively incorporating the voices of children and young people into our church ministry.

The family role

Sam Donoghue then came to talk with us from a children’s ministry perspective. Reflecting on stats from Scouts and Youth FA, Sam suggested the church have something to learn from their models – which show retention and growth. Talking about the family role in transitions, he discussed the importance of influence on a child’s faith. Sam challenged us to think about how we support and encourage parents to do this, not by putting on more programmes, but by talking, praying and practically supporting them.

Flexibility on age

Finally, Joy Faulkner-Mpeho taught from a Youth Minister’s perspective about the value of being present in the children’s ministry. This helps with consistency and familiarity in the transition. She posed a question of flexibility on the exact age for the transitions. Flexibility can aid the retention of young people if they can stay with in their friendship groups.

Rounding off the day with a Q&A, we discussed the value of working with parents, shared which school year we encourage transitions in and how successful that has been. We touched on rites of passage and considered the distinct lack of them in society today, as well as the effect that has on the time of transition.

Sam Donoghue said in the opening of his session, “We are here today because we don’t yet have the answer to how to do this excellently.” I wouldn’t say that we have found the answers, but it was a hugely interesting and enlightening day. Those who came will be contemplating much in this area of their ministries.


Katie O’Conor is the Children’s Ministry Support Worker for the Diocese of London. To find out more about the support we offer for those working with children and young people, click here.

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