1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
There is need to revisit our understanding of the place and structure of children ministry in the church. De Vries urges for a new understanding of the place of children within the church community. Similarly, and specifically focussing on children and youth, Strong argues that traditional children Ministry has been practised as “an independent ministry, leading to the isolation of the children from the larger church community”. Knoetze focuses on children and their parents and identifies a need to explore who must reach out to the children within the church family and also what their unique contextual needs are to inform children Ministry practices and teachings. In line with this viewpoint, and with the emphasis on children, Hendriks and Grobbelaar identify the need to develop new paradigms and new ways of doing in terms of serving children. The role of the church in supporting and caring for vulnerable groups, such as children and youth, is, among others, also to alleviate suffering, to empower them with knowledge and skills related to healthy living (including spiritual health) and to practice caring for others. Including children and youth in the theology of the church is needed in order to ensure that they are able to overcome challenges and that they are equipped to become active members of the church and society. Knoetze, however, argues that although the largest part of the African population consists of children and youth, the church in Africa still needs to identify a contextual framework for Children ministries to ensure effective services to children. Internationally, King refers to a growing concern regarding children leaving the church in Australia and Voas and Watt also note a concern regarding the fact that the church in the United Kingdom “fails to replace older generations of churchgoers”. The latter authors make specific reference to the fact that approximately 50% of children of church going parents leave the church at some stage. It appears that this trend also occurs in South Africa. Within the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) there has been a steady decline in the number of children who enrol in the junior catechesis. In the period 2000 to 2004 there was a drastic drop in both junior and senior catechists. This day, but specifically the Four Square Gospel Church, over the past decade a tendency of decreasing numbers of children and youth attending and participating in church services and activities were also noted . Based on this situation, the research study will look at the effect of class separation on the development of children ministry and church growth.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
This work places the focus on children ministry in a congregational context. The term “children”, refers to the age group 5 to 15 years, which falls in the developmental phase of early adolescence. This developmental period is associated with challenging physical, social and psychological change. Risk factors for children in this developmental stage include substance abuse, low parental monitoring, stressful life events (divorce, death in the family, abuse, etc.) and confusion/stress regarding sexual orientation. It is assumed that participation and involvement in church services and activities can assist children with the following developmental tasks: autonomy from parents/caregivers (i.e. independence), identity formation and internalised morality and as such provide them with support to become able to deal with the mentioned risk factors. The role of the church to assist children could be seen in terms of finding an identity and calling within a Christian value-based peer group. The aim would be to provide a space where a personal relationship with God could develop to assist the children to develop a Christian identity and to address the mentioned challenges.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine the impact of class separation on the development of children ministry and church growth. Other specific objectives of the study include;
1. To provide an historical overview of foursquare Gospel Church in Morogbo District.
2. To examine the possible contributing factors that influenced the development of children ministry in Foursquare Gospel Church.
3. To examine the impact of class separation on the development of children ministry and church growth.
4. To examine effective ways of teaching in the children ministry
5. To examine the relationship between development of children ministry and church growth.
6. To find out ways class separation will help in development of children Ministry and church growth.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is the research’s hope that the research findings will help the Christian parents, workers, child advocates in understanding the absolute relationship of parenting and church growth. The findings will be helpful for other researchers in related field of study. The researcher seeks to write a manual based on these findings to be used by the Christian leaders in the church to teach and train Christians about Christian parenting. So, this makes the study very significant.