Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Children's Ministry Around the World - Australia!

In the past few days we've "visited" Children's Ministry in Pakistan, Belize, and Northern Ireland . . . today we will "visit" the "Land Down Under" and see what children's ministry looks like in Australia!

I asked Denise Esterman if she would share with us about Children's Ministry in Australia and she was gracious enough to do so! Denise and her husband are actually missionaries from France to Australia and have served in three different sized churches. Denise says there really isn't a "typical" Children's Ministry in Australia . . . the smaller to mid-size churches she has served in tend to have the children and adults together for the beginning of the service then the children go to their own service for approximately 45 minutes to an hour while the larger churches she served in the children and adults  separate for the entire service. She said the kids especially love to serve and be given responsibility in an area of service in the church . . . such as developing their gifts through puppet ministry, worship team, and involvement in teaching part of a lesson, etc. 

Denise said with the reputation of Hillsong and a few other big churches, in her experience, people tend to think Australia is full of big, thriving churches; but this is not the case in the churches she has served in. Denise said in her experience, "Australian churches (of all denominations) are relatively small and making little impact in their community. Growth comes mainly through transfer of Christians from one church to another and very few churches are winning un-churched people to Jesus. The bigger churches have become the models for the others in worship, youth, and kids’ ministry, but the smaller churches don’t have the same resources or volunteer base, so they are trying to copy what the big churches do in the hope of growing; but with few results. They then become discouraged and tend to settle for “maintenance mode” which generally means becoming even less relevant to the world around them and ministering only to their members." Denise said she thinks Kids’ Ministry teams in smaller churches need help in finding solutions for their particular situations, as so many of them are volunteers with little time and money to invest in CM. 

I'm quite happy to have heard from Rob Bradbury who has served in various sized churches in Australia. He said many of the cm leaders in larger churches have also served in smaller churches so they do understand the needs and concerns of those who serve in smaller churches. This is good news! 

I asked Denise what curriculum they use and she said in the smaller and medium sized churches she has served in they used Discipleland, Lifekids.tv, Kidology, and wrote some of their own. The larger churches also write their own curriculum or used video based curriculum from the US such as Elevate and Kidmo or materials written by well-known Aussie pastors such as David Goodwin, Tammy Tolman, and Rob Bradbury.

Denise told me there are strict Govt. requirements for adult/child ratios in Australia, as well as the need for each worker to have a police clearance to work with children, so for every twenty children there are two adult leaders and one or two jr. leaders as well.

I asked Denise if they did any big events throughout the year and she said, "Bigger churches do holiday programs like VBS, but on a smaller scale while smaller churches do camps and sometimes one-day events during school holidays. In my current church, I haven’t seen any special events in the short time I’ve been there, but we have started doing monthly Visitors’ Mornings for the church so we are encouraging the kids to participate as well by inviting their friends to a special event for kids held at the same time as for the adults. We have a special Gospel program with puppets, a guest speaker, etc.
Some churches are very active in reaching kids in the community with outreach events and we want to build towards doing this as well later this year. We are also planning to have Family Fun Nights, both for the church families and for the local community."

Again, since I'm a huge proponent of "Putting Feet to Their Faith" I asked Denise if the children work on any service projects and if so, what type of service projects do they do? Denise said, "quite a few churches sponsor children in developing countries through World Vision or Compassion Ministries. All three churches I have served in also help orphanages in countries where their church missionaries serve and their cm's are very much involved in this. They send Christmas gifts to Samaritan’s Purse, Salvation Army, or Anglicare as well as conducting special events for children in need (Leukaemia Foundation, fostering children, etc.)"

When asked what she would love to do if she could do anything with the kids, Denise said, "I'd love to take them on a mission trip to visit the kids we sponsor and train them to run Kids’ Church. I'd also like to train them to participate more in the running of special events for kids in the community. I want to help them become real disciples of Jesus!"

I asked Denise what she liked best about Children's Ministry and why she serves children. She said, "God has given me a love for kids and a vision for what He can accomplish in and through them. It's wonderful to watch His 'army with little feet' grow to be what God has made them to be! The joy of meeting up with people I led to the Lord as children and finding them loving Jesus and serving Him with all their hearts, whether it be in secular work or in ministry, is the best thing! It doesn't get better than that!"

As you pray for the church and Children's Ministry in Australia, pray . . . 
  • the smaller and mid-size churches will not be discouraged and will find ways to be relevant as they share Jesus with the children and families in their churches and communities! 
  • churches will have a passion for reaching out to the unreached people in their communities
Thank you Denise for sharing your ministry with us!

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