hildren are our future. Children are the church’s future.
Do you believe that? Do you realize all these “techy” children in our pews each Sabbath will someday be our future members, union and conference presidents and treasurers, university professors and other leaders of our church?
Just think about it. We are in a pivotal position to guide and shape them in their faith journey. Everyone who has the privilege to reach out to and nurture children has the privilege of shaping their future. It is this generation that will take God’s church forward. Let’s begin involving children and mentoring them now.
It has been the mission of Children’s Ministries to nurture children into a loving, serving relationship with Jesus. To fulfill this purpose, Children’s Ministries provides multiple ministries that are grace-oriented, inclusive, leadership-empowering, service-oriented, cooperative, safe, and evangelistic in nature.
Children’s Ministries celebrates God’s gift of children in our churches today. On all levels of the church, children’s ministries strategically organizes nurturing programs not only on Sabbath, but also throughout the week. Each year churches celebrate Children’s Sabbath in July, a special day on the calendar of the world church. Moreover, children have the opportunity to participate in small groups, retreats, camps, evangelism, preaching, and outreach to the community.
It is heartwarming to see little missionaries in action. In Brazil, children run small groups: 10-year-old Clifferson, 7-year-old Mateus Soares, and 8-year-old Stephanie Barbosa run weekly small groups for their friends and neighborhood children. They have won many of their friends to Jesus.
Children’s Ministries has made a number of significant advances during the past quinquennium to facilitate leadership training, nurturing, disciple-making, and resource development for children and children’s leaders. In line with the world church’s initiatives of Tell the World: Reach Up, Reach Out, Reach Across; Revival and Reformation; and Mission to the Cities, the department has moved strategically forward with the development of resources and leadership training to grow these initiatives.
Children’s Ministries continues to collaborate with Sabbath School and Personal Ministries in training teachers and leaders on how to use GraceLink, the Sabbath school curriculum for children. In divisions and unions where no GraceLink lessons and teacher’s guides are available in local languages, Children’s Ministries has worked with division and union leadership to provide financial assistance to get these materials translated and printed for children in these language groups. Much progress has been made.
Leadership certification courses serve as the main tool for training Children’s Ministries leaders on all levels of the church. They equip them to lead children to Jesus, impacting faith development and empowering them to witness for Jesus and to live a healthy lifestyle. We have now completed five levels of the leadership certification package. All courses are produced on a CD with PowerPoint presentations and notes, and they are given to division directors to train their counterparts on the union levels. They are also available on the Children’s Ministries Web site at www.gcchildmin.org.
In response to the need for resources and other materials for Children’s Ministries leaders and for children, in fulfilling the major initiatives of the church, the department has developed the following resources:
- Bible Adventures for Young Readers, by Charles Mills: a great Bible study resource based on the 28 Fundamental Beliefs written for primary-age children, with corresponding activities.
- Jesus in My Heart radio spots, by Charles Mills: This audio series contains two-minute spots covering 26 topics on prayer, dealing with crisis, and other questions children ask about God and religion. Excellent for radio broadcasts.
- Healthy Inside and Out radio spots, by Charles Mills: This audio series contains two-minute spots covering 26 topics of healthful living for children. Excellent for radio broadcasts.
- CELEBRATIONS! Healthy Inside Out! by Shawna Vyhmeister and Sonia Krumm: an excellent resource that teaches children 12 concepts of health based on the acronym CELEBRATIONS, such as choice, exercise, liquids, etc. It includes activities that enhance the children’s understanding of health.
- Healthy Inside Out—Fun Skits for Kids,by Amanda Bews: These are skits based on the CELEBRATIONS book that children can dramatize and act out to reinforce their understanding of the health concepts.
- A Musical Journey; Proactive Kids at the CELEBRATIONS Castle, by Saustin Mfune and Dumisani Mfune: a songbook and CD with songs by children in a drama format as they discover the CELEBRATIONS castle to learn about health.
- My Quiet Time With Jesus: Prayer Calendar and Journal, by Karen Holford and Linda Koh: a beautiful month-by-month calendar with prayer activities and journal pages for children to participate in daily, encouraging them to have a personal devotional time with Jesus. These prayer activities are based on the four dynamics of the GraceLink curriculum: grace, worship, community, and service.
- The Creation Case, by Richard Aguilera: a DVD series with 13 episodes of beautiful scenes to teach older primary children about Creation and the Creator God. It is available in English and Spanish and includes an activity booklet.
- Michael Asks Why, abridged ed.,by Sally Dillon: an abridged version of the original adapted children’s version, The Great Controversy, by Ellen G. White.
- Stewardship Jack series, by Janice Matthews: In collaboration with the North American Division Stewardship Department, this series of books teaches children different aspects of stewardship through the life of a dog named Jack.
- Week of Prayer readings: Children’s Week of Prayer readings are produced annually, according to the topics of the adult readings for the world church.
Kids in Discipleship (KID)
Kids in Discipleship, which was launched at the World Advisory in 2006, has continued into this quinquennium and has been embraced by 11 world divisions. Many churches are running the KID program for families, and the results have been inspiring! Parents and children have testified how they have grown in their faith journey together as parents commit themselves to disciple their children daily. Only in eternity will we see the full impact of children becoming strong disciples for the Lord.
- While significant advances have been made in Children’s Ministries in the past quinquennium, we still face challenges:
- Finding sufficient finances to assist with the translation of materials for children who do not speak English.
- Electing a coordinator to minister to children in every local church. Not all churches have a children’s ministries coordinator to care for the needs of children.
- Providing a budget for children’s programs. Many conferences and local churches do not have budgets for children’s programs. We need to continue to urge them to make children a priority in the church.
- Encouraging churches to involve children in worship, in all aspects of church life and in the faith community.
- Inspiring and motivating all churches to rediscover the importance of children.
- Church leaders have to “aim lower, think smaller!”