When people often introduce me at church, I’m usually the youth pastor or youth minister. I don’t usually correct them – guess I should. Some people actually do know my official title – Minister with Children and Youth. I’m so joyful to be associated with our youth, as I am to have opportunities to journey with our children. Here’s a small taste of our goings-on with our ministry with children.
It’s important that our children have opportunities to do more than just acquire knowledge about their faith. Children and their families gather together once a month to learn about our partnership with Oak Grove Elementary and to make bookmarks for children and gifts for the teachers there. In May, our church will participate in Stop Hunger Now. There is a family mission trip that is in the works for summer 2016. Providing opportunities for all ages to follow in the way of Jesus is vital to our lives as people of faith.
The Easter egg hunt was fabulous – I saw children helping each other find eggs and then sharing their candy to make sure all had candy. In March, the church had a family game night (you need to come the next time it’s offered – so much fun). The image to the right is powerful – Bill Tuck and George Davis playing spoons with youth and children from our church.
Last week, I asked the children in Children’s Church about the scripture they heard in worship (road to Emmaus story). These 1st and 2nd graders are listening and paying attention and engaging – they’re worshipping. They knew most of the story (from hearing it that morning, not from prior knowledge). They know the Lord’s Prayer and the doxology. In Children’s Church, they have opportunities to pray as well as to offer blessings to one another. They have opportunities to lead us in corporate worship – through music, through waving palms on Palm Sunday, and through the reading of scripture several times throughout the year.
On several Sunday afternoons in March, several children gathered to participate in Way of the Child, giving them the space and tools to look inward and explore how they perceive God and their own spirituality. After the class, a mom told me her daughter was considering baptism. Folks are having conversations about how we can provide intentional opportunities for folks of all ages to gather together. This is important – “the way most of us become Christians is by looking over someone else’s shoulders, emulating an admired older Christian, taking up the way of life that was made real and accessible through someone else’s witness.” Our children and youth need significant adult relationships in their lives, more than those who are related to them.
And I haven’t even mentioned the wonderful ministry of our preschool – I’ve already exceeded the allowed word count.
Children are not just the future of the Church – they are an important part of the present of the Church. Thanks be to God.