Jesus welcomed children, told us to become like them (Matt 18:2-6), and warned us strongly against causing these precious little people to stumble (Luke 17:1&2).
If He placed such importance on children, then undoubtedly, we should too. As adults and leaders in our church we should not only be teaching them but also equipping them to be lifelong disciples of Jesus, in the small window of opportunity we have to support them in making a faith decision.
At least 2/3 of decisions made to follow Jesus happen before the age of thirteen and these children are much more likely to stick by their decision. (Barna Group, 2009)
Thus, Sabbath school lessons, Adventurers and Rally Days, Big Camp and holiday Kids Clubs are important, helping our children learn to love Jesus more and want to share that love with other people.
When planning for our Revelation Today program in 2019, Children’s Ministries ensured the kids also covered the same topics as their parents, presented in a child friendly way to enable them to connect with both their heads and hearts… over 50 children made decisions to have Bible studies or be baptised.
Children’s Ministries believes EMPOWERING CHILDREN to use the gifts that God has given them is important, and endeavours to intentionally do so in it’s programs.
The primary focus in Children’s Ministries is equipping and EMPOWERING PARENTS to teach our children about Jesus and His love for them and helping us show kids the absolute joy that comes from being a true follower of Jesus.
Some new initiatives have been developed over the past four years to support families, including a baby dedication package where pastors work with new parents to begin a lifelong journey of sharing their faith with their children, and a Children’s Ministries Advent Calendar distributed at Christmas time, providing a Bible reading and targeted discussion question.
Children’s Ministries provide and promote family friendly resources and organise training events.
Obviously Big Camp was not able to go ahead in 2020 and 2021 due to restrictions placed by COVID. In 2020, the Children’s Ministries directors from around Australia worked together to create an online big camp for kids and in 2021, Victoria again provided online Big Camp for our kids. While nothing replaces the in-person experience, our kids still had a a fun way to learn more about Jesus.
The department offers LOCAL CHURCH SUPPORT ensuring the invested leaders who engage in ministry to children are fully equipped in their various roles.
The focus over the last four years has included GraceLink, Faith Shaper, Resilience and Family Worship workshops and regular newsletters full of resources and ideas including VBS resources. They worked with the Youth Department to coach through the Growing Together cohort and to provide training for Children’s Ministries at VicYouth’s Leadership weekend.
While every year is different, 2020 certainly threw a few curve balls at all of us! The Children’s Ministries department became aware that one age group was not being catered for. This prompted the development of ‘Reset’, an online worship program for Juniors and Teens designed specifically to lead our young people into a closer relationship with Jesus and to give them skills to be His disciples.
Over the past year, work has also been done with Kids Hope to find churches that are willing to connect with local schools. This is a great way for church members to connect with and mentor children who come from challenging home situations or who are experiencing a difficult time.
Also on offer is SCHOOL SUPPORT, by supporting chapel and festival of faith programs.
“This is one of my highlights in Children’s Ministries,” says director, Julie Catton. “2020 has made us aware of the ever-changing world we live in and the need to build resilience and a sense of identity in our children.”
She has found that 2020 expedited new ways to do ministry, emphasising that while God does not change, there are times the Church must. “Supporting and building up resources for churches navigating an ever-changing world is essential to ensuring our children are nurtured and have a sense of belonging no matter the format of church.”