Popular books and resources for children’s ministers are typically based on philosophical assertions, anecdotal evidence, or the experience of the author, rather than on empirical evidence. The present study seeks to advance the science of children’s ministry by validating a measure of children’s ministry praxis and determining whether different approaches to children’s ministry are actually associated with the outcomes they are assumed to produce. Statistical analyses of existing survey data collected from 201 Nazarene churches in the United States revealed three empirically distinct ministry models differentially associated with attendance growth, conversion rates, evangelism rates, and service participation. Practical implications are discussed.
There is currently no empirically supported consensus on what children’s ministers need to know in order to effectively serve the children in their local congregations. To shed light on this question, this paper presents a qualitative content analysis of undergraduate children’s ministry degree programs in the United States (N = 30). Findings revealed a strong emphasis on theology and general ministry preparation, with most programs drawing from the related academic disciplines of psychology and education. Children’s ministry specific courses included philosophical, programming, and administrative topics. Commonly assigned textbooks included both philosophical and practical content. Implications for practice and research are discussed.
Keywords: higher education, training, clergy, children’s pastors, family ministry, religious education