Discerning Our Path

for UUCB

New Directions in

Children and Youth Ministries

Si! - Strategic Initiatives Committee


For the 2018 – 2019 church year, the Strategic Initiatives Committee will focus on our programs for children in preschool through high school.

UUCB would like to see dynamic and prospering programs for our children.

Si! will support the staff professional being hired to

  • examine current programs at our and other churches,
  • evaluate these programs for relevancy, vibrancy, and overall effectiveness, and
  • make recommendations to our Board of Trustees for comprehensive new programming at UUCB to be implemented the following church year.

The Minister will be involved, and appropriate staff will be consulted.

World Cafe All-Church Forum


  • Share what we have learned so far.
  • Gather ideas and other input from the congregation.

Format for Today:

Four Key Questions based on three areas -

  • Home & families/parent support
  • All-church experiences
  • Children and youth gatherings

I am going to share some information from the research we have done to help you all think this through. We are not trying to bias you in one direction or another. Rather, we wish to share what we know and hear your thoughts about it.

As Rev. Kelly pointed out in the service today, we have learned that there 3 major influences for the spiritual development of children and youth: Parental Influence, whole congregation worship, and religious education classes. Of those three, parental influence is the primary indicator of whether or not a child will remain connected to their faith in adulthood. In fact, this can happen without ever entering a congregation or participating in RE. It’s that powerful.

Second to that, is participation in whole congregation worship because it has a deep and LASTING IMPACT. It is important for children and youth to know and be known by people of all ages and be recognized as a full participant in the life of the congregation.

And then finally, we have RE. Sunday school or RE programs alone, without participation in whole congregation worship, and without parental or family influence, are virtually ineffective in passing on the faith.

In a perfect world, we would do all three.

Skip the words below and let the slide speak for itself.

I want you to think about where we have focused our resources When it comes to children youth and families. When I’m talking about resources, I don’t just mean financial resources: but your own staff time and energy, what’s on the calendar, what is communicated/expected, etc. Nearly every congregational website I visit will have a section explaining RE. Many will talk about special worship services that include everyone. And remarkable few will mention explicitly supporting parents in their roles as primary religious educators in the home. Remarkably few.

we put the overwhelming majority of our resources toward Sunday morning RE even when all alone, the impact is minimal.

After that, we will put our resources towards whole congregation worship, either for 15 minutes a week, once a month, or maybe just the high holy days.

And lastly, or not at all, we put our resources towards supporting parents in their role as primary religious educator.

What might it look like, or what might the impact be if we focused our efforts and started putting the bulk of our resources towards equipping and supporting families in their faith practices at home and in the world?

What would happen if we completely flipped everything around?

A survey of parents by The Barna Group found that “close to nine out of ten parents of children under age 13 believe they have the primary responsibility for teaching their children about religious beliefs and spiritual matters.”

However, “a majority of parents do not spend any time during a typical week discussing religion with their children.” Instead, they “generally rely on their church to do all of the religious training their children will receive.” The report concludes that parents are not unwilling to provide spiritual leadership for their children, but they are ill-equipped to lead them in this way. They don’t know how.

What UUCB is Starting

  • Starting Parents Group(s) January 27, 4:15p With BVUUF.
  • “Soulful Home” - A new resource for parents and families from “Soul Matters”.
  • “A UU Moment” - Each Wednesday, at 6:30p, you can join a Zoom video call for a 20-minute family worship service.
  • Family Worship services
  • More engaged and innovative Intergenerational Services

There was an article in the UU World magazine

Question A - Ministry with Families

  • What ideas do you have to support/help our families in their spiritual growth and development both at home and at church?

UU World Article - “Better Than Sunday School”

The congregation in Oakland, California started Chalice Camp in 2003 as a supplement to the regular Sunday morning religious education program.

In 2010, the congregation ended its traditional Sunday school program in favor of worship-based, multigenerational programming year-round and short-term, high-commitment RE during some parts of the year including Chalice Camp, Our Whole Lives (OWL), and the Coming of Age program.

Forty hours of Chalice Camp is almost as much time as kids would get in a full year of Sunday school.

There was an article in the UU World magazine

A Hybrid-System

  • Children and adults worship together for the entire hour once a month, including during holidays and other special events.
  • On some Sundays, families spend the first twenty minutes together for the Time for All Ages, and then children depart before the sermon for the Spirit Art Room or Spirit Games Room.
  • On other Sundays, the children gather for Children’s Chapel, when they focus on an age-appropriate version of the same theme the adults are exploring that week.

What UUCB is Starting

  • UUCB is planning to do a summer camp the first week of June.
  • We are also considering adapting the format for Sunday mornings used at the Oakland church.

There was an article in the UU World magazine

Question B - Ministry of Children and Youth

  • What is the best design for programs for our children and youth ministries at church? (Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, other times during the week.)

Look, something’s got to give. Religious Education classes are not enough

Here’s what we know:

Brought my toddlers to church. They were sent to another room to play with play do and eat goldfish crackers during worship.

Don’t need the church for an opportunity to do arts and crafts, or have story hour, play with other kids, sing sings or bake cookies. There are plenty of places to do that.

Church is the only place to learn how to worship, and one of the very few places left in society where people of all ages and stages can gather and be in community with one another.

We exclude kids at our peril, because they have something to contribute – by their mere presence and existence as part of humanity.

Children are not just consumers of our services, and learners from our wisdom, they have a part to play, just like all adults in our church.

Question C - Full Church Community

  • How can we better integrate and strengthen the involvement of our children and youth in our full faith community, especially Sunday services?

Six Possible Models from other Congregations


Whole Congregation Worship

Family Worship

Faith Formation

Multi-Age Community Service

Age segregated RE

Bringing it Home

Full Week Faith

Involving the congregation

Question D - Vision

  • If you had three wishes for the spiritual development of our children and youth at UUCB what would they be?
2019-01-13 Si! C Presentation New Directions in Children and Youth Ministries - Google Slides