This is the new tagline for our ministry to children at Wesley Chapel. Merriam-Webster defines tagline as “a catchphrase or slogan that serves to clarify a point or create a dramatic effect.” The dramatic effect part made me laugh.
Our team of servants on the front lines of making disciples of Jesus Christ has continued to grow in our family of faith, and I sensed a need for a bit of clarity.
Building spiritually healthy kids is not about programming. It is about providing opportunities and resources for meaningful experiences where little people can encounter and respond to the recognizable presence of a great God who made them and His son, Jesus, who loves them.
It is my hope that this tagline will keep us in conversation and focus for the fruit of their experiences while they are in our house. These are the questions we are asking and the filter through which we will measure effectiveness. We used large post-in notes and lined the walls with what we thought we did well and where we think we need greater opportunities.
Luke 2:41-52 reports for us what Jesus did as a kid: He went to church, He listened to His teachers, and He obeyed His Mama. The result? “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
Are we intentionally offering experiences where little people can grow in wisdom of our Lord and Savior, AND in favor with God and men? What are they? Can we realistically expect them to learn to “love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, and souls” with 1 hour out of 168 hours in a week? Knowing the stats of church attendance, what can we provide to offer these experiences outside of church, by Mom & Dad, Grandparents, and the community?
When a kid can explain it, we know she’s got it. Are we giving our kids an opportunity to tell what we said and what we think we’ve taught? We have curriculum and beaucoup resources to teach with, but what are they hearing?
James Bryan Smith’s three-book series, “A Good and Beautiful God”, is all about replacing false personal narratives that we may have learned along the way which are in complete opposition to what Jesus says about God in the scriptures. These false narratives filter our faith in our One True God. Are we offering time for testimony? Are we building in time for little people to tell us when they recognized God’s presence in their lives, or are we just getting through the assignment?
When a little one’s hands are busy, their minds are calm. God wired us to gather in community and be His answer to the many of the hurts of the world. WE are the plan. What can a little person do in response to what they hear about God and His people? What can a little person do in response to what they hear about the hurts, disasters, and trials of the world? This is our window to practice compassion, help, mercy, kindness, empathy, love. Love is an action word.
When they serve, is there a face and a name attached? In keeping with our annual church theme of “Go into the world” from Mark 16:15, we’ve been inviting folks to speak with our children and youth who have gone into the world as missionaries and those who have received the gifts and graces of little people (ShoeBox recipient who came to America and was adopted by faith-filled parents). The fire God has placed within their hearts for others in the world is palpable as a result.
Children’s Choir is fantastic, but what if we have introverted kids (and we all do). Worship is more than music. Are we offering opportunities to worship corporately and individually? Teaching and practicing prayer, journaling, meditation, reflection, silence? Are WE practicing such soul training? Are we telling about our own soul training?
And let’s talk about art..worship art. We serve a God of creativity and color and texture and sound. A canvas, paint, modpodge, and foil can go a long way in presenting what one has captured in their heads and hearts. What does scripture look like in color and not just in black in white? This is not a craft, but rather, child-directed art.
Is our church a community where they feel they belong? Are they known by others in our family of faith besides their parents and the children’s director?
We recognize that we get kids in our CLUB345 from much larger churches in our community. I asked one last year, why. She said, “I don’t have to wear a name tag here. You know me.” Community is a place where a kid is known. Even when we have smaller numbers, our mantra has been, “We will do for one what we would do for 100, for when we are faithful with a few, God will bless us with many.”
There is no other organization in our culture where inter-generational opportunities happen within community like the local church. How do we make that happen when short people go to the left and tall people go the right after worship? Oh, you can bet, we will be making more “bumps” happen between our generations this next school year.
How would you “tag” your ministry to children so “that all may know?”