A Gospel Legacy for our Little Ones, Part 2
January 10, 2019 | by: Stephen Sprague | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Last week I talked about the “What?” of our children’s ministry here at Oak Hills. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d encourage you to check it out HERE. More specifically, I wrote about the unique opportunity that we have as a church in our children’s ministry to disciple our kids in tune with our mission statement here at Oak Hills – “Longing to Know and Make Known the Astonishing Grace of God.” This is the follow up to that article as we now look to answer the questions of “How?” “Why?” and “Who?”.
The how in my mind is found in the variety of programs that we offer here at Oak Hills for our children. On Sunday mornings in Acorns (0-2 years), Sprouts (2-4 years) and Promiseland (4/5 years – 2nd grade) we have geared our various children’s ministries around the hard work of showing the kids Christ from all of Scripture. I say hard work because some passages of Scripture are much easier than others at showing us our need for Christ and how he has won for us our restored relationship with God. Still, our desire is for our kids to know the Bible well, and to know from the Bible that their relationship with God is secure in Christ through his life death and resurrection. While our teaching on Sunday morning is structured primarily around the word, in each classroom we have age specific activities, music, lessons, handouts and even snacks to aid in and reinforce each child’s learning experience. Ultimately, our desire here is not just to give them an opportunity to learn about Christ from his Word on their level, but to also teach them how to sit and to listen, how to sing along to songs, and how to participate in an interactive service (More on this under “Why?”).
We also have children’s Sunday School classes during the Sunday School hour for our pre-K through 5th grade children, and KID360 (grades 2-5) on Wednesday night – Both of which use curriculum and catechisms, (newcitycatechism.com) based upon the truths of Scripture, to provide and reinforce a sound worldview of the Christian faith. While much of how we do what we do on Sunday mornings during the worship service is meant to prepare kids for worship, our Children’s Sunday School hour and KID360 are more specifically geared toward their discipleship in the Christian faith.
In all these things we ask our volunteers to serve in wisdom and love, caring for these children and their families as we seek to help nurture and grow their faith in Christ.
The question of “Why?” is the motivator for much of what we do in children’s ministry. Why do we do the things we do in children’s ministry? Why do we teach the things we teach? Why do we teach the way we teach? etc. All of these are good questions and I think they can all be answered by looking back at that mission statement one more time – “Longing to Know and Make Known the Astonishing Grace of God.” We desire for our kids to grow up in the church knowing and loving the gospel, knowing and loving God, knowing and loving his church, and then making that knowledge and love known to the world around them. Why do we emphasize the use of song and other aspects of worship in our younger age groups? Because we desire for our children to naturally transition into worshiping with the rest of the body of believers on Sunday morning as they grow up in the church. Why do we have such a strong emphasis on the Word in all of our children’s ministries during the service? Because we desire for our children to develop and grow in the discipline of being able to listen to and benefit from the Word of God with the rest of the body as it’s proclaimed to them each and every week. Why children’s ministry at all? Why catechism memorization? Why Sunday School? Why KID360? In all of this we answer – we as a church want to hand off our faith to our children, and we want it to become their own. We want them to fall in love with God’s Word, with his church, with the salvation they have in Christ. This is what we strive for each and every week.
The “Who?” is all of us. We are a body, with Christ as our head. Each of us have different roles and different giftings. Parents are ultimately responsible for the discipleship of their children, but we want all of the parents of Oak Hills (myself included!) to know that you are not alone in this task. That we as a body care for one another. That we care for our children as members of our church, and that we desire to see them grow in their faith. We want families to succeed in this endeavor. We as a church want to succeed in this endeavor. So the “Who?” is all of us. It’s your pastors and elders, your deacons, your children’s ministry leaders, your mom and dad, your husband or wife, yourself (even if you’re a single adult!). It’s all of us.
At the same time, there are many who have taken up the task to serve in our children’s ministry which is an ever-growing need at Oak Hills (we average around 40 children on a Sunday morning, praise God!). If you are a children’s ministry volunteer – thank you! Please hear this from me – our goal is never to burden you. But it’s also not to give you a meaningless task that just anyone could do. It’s not necessarily easy. It’s not something that can be done without prayer and preparation (it doesn’t take a ton of prep, but it does require some, and we recognize this!). This is spiritual warfare. This is the passing on of our faith to our children. It’s a big deal, and we’re so grateful you continue to serve week in and week out in this capacity. Some weeks will be harder than others and some weeks feel like you were merely present. Other weeks however, you’ll feel like the Lord used you greatly. Know that no matter how you feel, the children are grateful, parents are grateful, we’re grateful – and more importantly, that the Lord uses you, even in your weakest moments, to shine the light of the gospel into the hearts of the smallest members of our church body. None of what you do is meaningless. THANK YOU!
For those of you whose children participate in any one of the several ministry programs we have for them, please consider taking the time to pull their teachers aside and say thanks, give them a kind note of encouragement, shoot them an email letting them know how grateful you are. Sometimes this service can be thankless, but it doesn’t have to be. After all, we’re in this together.
Lastly, if you haven’t considered serving in children’s ministry here at Oak Hills, please take a moment to pray about whether or not the Lord could use you in this way in the future. And if you think he is leading you in this direction, please send me or Gerie an email. As I mentioned earlier, our children’s ministries are only growing as our church grows, and we could certainly use new help. I know not everyone is called to this specifically, but I do believe that there are some who have yet to volunteer, I don’t know who, but I’m praying you do and as the Lord leads, you’ll prayerfully consider joining us in this great task.