by Susi Albrecht and Nancy Akers
The Year of the Child is GenMin’s theme for 2016 with the goal of encouraging all of us to focus with intentionality on our precious children! An important way to do that is by providing Children’s Church—a place at church where the children can bond, learn and grow, while discovering what God has to say to them through the Bible.
For our teaching in Children’s Church to be effective, we must not teach the Bible as a collection of unrelated stories. Children need to learn that the Bible is one unified story of redemption in and through Jesus Christ. That story is the gospel, and true heart transformation takes place as a child experiences the gospel.
There is no age too soon (or too late, for that matter) when a person can hear the good news of Jesus’ unending love for them. When a child comes to understand that Jesus is their personal friend and Savior it’s one of the most rewarding moments for parents and congregations to celebrate.
Of course, there are many different approaches to conducting Children’s Church (and other forms of age-graded family ministry). What works in one congregation might not in another. Also, there are opposing viewpoints concerning ministry to children, each claiming to be the right one. But we (Susi and Nancy) feel that each children’s ministry is as unique as the children being served. That being said, there are helpful and tested approaches that we think will be valuable to you. We want to take time in each issue of Equipper to explore some of the options. It’s our goal to offer ideas, give creative ways of sharing the gospel with children and families. We encourage you to share your experiences using the comments feature at the bottom of the page.
Together we have many years of experience organizing and teaching Children’s Church, including choosing curricula and coordinating events. Of course, the greatest place we’ve learned how to minister to children is in raising our own children (and for Nancy, that includes grandchildren). We’re passionate about our children, as we know you are too. They are our most urgent and important mission field.
Connecting with children, holding their attention, getting them involved and guiding them to take ownership of their church family—these are big topics worth careful exploration. Often, we fall into the trap of simply patterning children’s ministry after adult programs. Instead, we need to seek input from the children in shaping the ministry. What kids lack in maturity and life experience, they make up for in enthusiasm, creativity and energy. For example, with loving guidance, children are often unapologetic, effective evangelists. It’s our job to equip and unleash them so they may find their purpose in God.
But what if you do not have children in your congregation, should you just skip over this section of Equipper? Please don’t! We all have children in our lives, maybe not currently in our congregation, but certainly in our families, neighborhoods and communities. Helpful points for children’s church and family ministry can also be applied to any circumstance where we encounter children. We need to be prepared and intentional at all times to share the love of Jesus with children.
The famous preacher D. L. Moody once came home from a tent revival and reported to a friend that two and a half people were saved that night. The friend replied, “Oh, so two adults and a child?” Moody responded, “No, two children and one adult. The two children have the opportunity to experience the love of God their whole life.”
We’re excited to share our experience with you, and we welcome your suggestions and questions (submit them using the comments section at the bottom of this page).
P.S. Though Easter has come and gone, its message is important every day. For a clear, concise way to tell the story from a child’s perspective, watch this video:
On YouTube at http://youtu.be/q922E4yNdH8.