What are the fundamental driving forces at the heart of children’s ministry that should guide and hold it true to what we should be saying and doing?
What are essential beliefs that set the direction of children’s ministry, keep it on track, and make it easy to prepare and plan activities and events?
Our beliefs underpin children’s ministry. They’re the foundation of what we do, why we do it, and how we do it. So it’s crucial for us to clearly define and articulate them.
Here are twelve core values for children’s ministry:
We focus on Jesus.
In a me-centred culture, we intentionally make Christ the centre of attention in every facet of children’s ministry. What matters most is children having an unwavering commitment to Jesus and the life of faith He demonstrated through His words and actions. “He must become greater; [we] must become less” John 3:30. According to the Children Everywhere Walking With Jesus Challenge for Small Groups, the supreme goal of the child’s journey “is to become like Him – to be complete and whole in Him.”
We engage with the Story.
We seek to help children read (hear), reflect, remember and respond to God’s Word. Specifically, we invite and equip children to enter the Story with imagination and faith. The objective is for children to see themselves as participants who actively engage and get caught up in God’s saga by receiving it and reenacting it.The objective is for children to see themselves as participants who actively engage and get caught up in God's saga by receiving it and reenacting it. Click To Tweet
We collaborate with families.
The physical family (parents/legal guardians) and the spiritual family (church community) must lead the way in raising children to know the King and serve in His kingdom. We champion parents and congregations in helping children see what it means to be dead to the world and alive to Jesus.
We proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Children will be products of the kind of teaching they hear and believe. The Gospel of the kingdom, correctly and fully shared, is high-octane. It’s like nothing else. It stands for Christ dying for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) to reconcile us to Himself (Colossians 1:19-22) and therein give us fullness of life (John 10:10). It’s also radical because a child must yield everything to be utterly devoted to Jesus and Him alone (Exodus 34:14). Moreover, it’s unfeasible. No child (or adult) can commit themselves entirely to Jesus independently (Ephesians 2:8-9). Only Christ’s grace and mercy can start and sustain a child in a relationship with Him.
We pray with and for children.
It’s essential that we intercede for the spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual health and growth of our children. We do this by asking God to reach, rescue, root and release them to deny themselves, take up the cross, and follow Him (Mark 8:34-37). And we recognize that “with people this is impossible,” yet we also acknowledge, “with God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26.
We model the way of Christ.
We must look like the Jesus we proclaim by following the example of Jesus and inviting children to follow our example (1 Corinthians 11:1). More is caught than taught. While we understand we aren’t perfect, we seek, with the empowering of the Holy Spirit, to model what it’s like to be active followers of Jesus who are growing more deeply in love with Him.
We embrace all children.The child in our midst should never be missed! Click To Tweet
We must have God’s heart for children. The child in our midst should never be missed! Every child matters to Jesus. Jesus loves all children of all abilities in all circumstances, so we should love them too. Their welcome and welfare should be a priority. We want God’s best for every child. So special provisions are made for children in the margins, children at risk, children with exceptionalities, and children who are the least of the least (Matthew 25:40).
We encourage participation.
Jesus has no age, strength, wisdom or status barriers to people belonging or serving in His kingdom (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). Christian children are co-workers and equal partners in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Adults should never prevent children from responding to the leading/moving of the Holy Spirit. By God’s grace, Christian children can and should fulfill ministry roles that fit with their gifts/talents, anointing, maturity, and experience.
We develop relationships.
Pastor and author Rick Warren says, “We’re better together!” Every child needs others to journey with them. Children should build vertical and horizontal friendships, i.e. with Jesus and people in all age groups (Mark 12:30-31). So building children up, loving, and supporting them, should be the norm for children’s ministry (Romans 12:10, Philippians 2:3-4).
We keep the main thing the main thing.
Children’s ministry is far more than a noble idea or conviction. It’s children engaging in an exciting relationship with the One worth dying for and children enjoying what the Indian author and Christian philosopher Vishal Mangalwadi calls “a love affair worthy of songs.” In the words of children’s pastor Mark Harper, “We must begin with the end in mind.” And what’s the end we should have in mind? It’s to get children into Jesus and Jesus into children. That is, we must do everything we can to help children discover “the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in (them), the hope of glory” Colossians 1:27.The end game is to get children into Jesus and Jesus into children! Click To Tweet
We are creative and engaging.
Children’s ministry should innovate, reveal fresh expressions of God, and be fun! We need to speak the language of children, and that language includes experiential games, engaging technology, interactive activities, dynamic dialogue, role-playing, competitions, drama, singing, sport, and imaginative play.
We foster safe environments.
Children must be adequately protected from harm or abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, and neglect). So we must create and maintain environments that facilitate the right level of care conducive for children to thrive.
These twelve core values for children’s ministry aren’t fluid. They’re non-negotiable (that’s why they’re core values), and everyone who ministers to children should hold tightly to them.
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© Scripture Union, 2022