Over the past month, I have been challenged to think about the purpose of Children’s Ministry at The Bridge and how to achieve that purpose. In reflecting about this, I thought it would be important to share these thoughts with all my Brothers and Sisters in Christ who are not currently serving in this amazing ministry.
When thinking about our purpose, two verses come to mind:
*Matthew 28:19 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”
*Joshua 24:15, – “…As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Both of these verses are well-known verses, but I think that each elucidates the purpose that we have for the Children’s Ministry in a powerful way.
We are commissioned to make disciples of all nations and it is my belief, and that of many churches, that starting the discipleship process as early as possible is a positive for any individual. Because of this, it is the goal of the Children’s Ministry to begin engaging children in discipleship as part of the program. What exactly does it mean to begin discipling a child?
First and foremost, we utilize our time with the children to expose them to the truth of the Gospel. Namely, that we are all sinners and the only way to be saved is through the completed work of Jesus Christ which is a gift given to us by grace. This message is a constant focus for our lessons as not all children that we encounter as a part of our ministry have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Second, we focus on teaching children from age 2-12 directly from the Word of God. It is key that the children not only hear about God, but that they know the truth directly from its source.
Finally, we work to model appropriate behavior and the motivations behind that behavior for each of the children. Kids, like us all, sin and that sin does not necessarily stop because they are at church on Sunday. Because of this, those who are serving the children not only help the children to recognize when they have sinned, but also walk them through the steps of confession, repentance and change following a Biblical manner. Behavior change in and of itself is not sufficient. What is most important is a child’s heart being changed by God.
The discipleship process; however, does not only involve the children. Part of the benefit of working in Children’s Ministry is the opportunity for relationships to be built, and the discipleship process to occur, with people serving together. To be honest, this is an area that we are hoping to improve on. Within this ministry, we hope to begin pairing individuals to work together in order to replicate skills and help each individual grow in their faith and relationship to the Lord. Right now, all those who serve within the ministry may have the opportunity to encourage one another and learn from each other, but the intentional discipling process is not present. In the future, our hope and prayer is that we can replicate the amazing gifts of individuals who have volunteered for years in a younger generation so that they can pick up the torch or see the example of these people and find the place they can best serve the Lord.
That brings me to the last part of Joshua 24:15. I am not sure how many people know this, but Children’s Ministry falls under the Family Ministry umbrella at The Bridge. This makes a lot of sense and it is our goal to not only be under that label, but to make it true. At this time, the ministry is focusing on becoming a place where the focus is not just telling a story on Sunday, but making it possible for the whole family to actively engage in the Word throughout the week. We are attempting to do this by encouraging our families with children to serve in the ministry once a month. By doing this, families will not only gain an understanding of what is being taught, but will also be able to connect with other families who have children of a similar age. It is such a benefit for families to connect and what is easier than connecting over what your children are doing. This can be a great way to build a relationship and find others who are in a similar situation and can help with accountability and encouragement.
In addition to including families, we also are having each age group experience the same lesson at their individual level. By doing this, we are hoping to encourage families to take the lesson home and discuss it together. The work that is done on Sunday is just the beginning – true discipleship of children really happens at home. It is our goal that families have all the resources necessary to not only be disciples on Sunday, but to continue to serve the Lord throughout their week.