There are two biblical concepts that are the basis, the inspiration, and the goal of the Children’s Ministries Department, whose objectives are “teaching to serve and serving to teach” the younger members of the Lord’s flock.
We turn to the life of Christ for principles of working with children.
Jesus as a child. Even though the account of the first years of Jesus’ life is short, Luke 2:52 describes the harmony of His growth during his childhood. In the book Desire of Ages, p. 70, there is this promise: “Every child may gain knowledge as Jesus did. As we try to become acquainted with our heavenly Father through His word, angels will draw near, our minds will be strengthened, our characters will be elevated and refined.”
Jesus as an adult, relating to children. Matthew 19:14 expresses the care Jesus had for the young ones: “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them.” This represented a double blessing, for Jesus “planted in their minds the seeds of truth, which in after years would spring up” (Desire of Ages, p. 515).
Children were also a blessing to Jesus, for the presence of the little ones “refreshed His spirit when oppressed” (Desire of Ages, p. 511).
What a privilege we have as leaders to follow these divine precepts! That is why the mission of the Children’s Ministries in our church is “to help each Adventist child to develop a redemptive and permanent friendship with Jesus, preparing them for service and commitment to the church until His coming.”
And as elders look at the various departments of the church, they will certainly ask, “How can I support, encourage and promote the Children’s Ministries Department in my church? How can I involve it within total church planning?”
The elder can make it a point to know the activities of the CM and the dates of their events so that none of them are missing from the church’s annual calendar. There are the traditional and familiar programs as well as other programs that are less familiar during the ecclesiastical year. Within the traditional ones, we encourage the following:
Children’s Story. It is the time during the worship service when children participate and receive spiritual food according to their understanding. This helps children feel they are being included in the worship service. It values, recognizes and makes them feel a part of worship. The time dedicated to this activity should be short, perhaps no more than 5 to 7 minutes, because children’s attention span is very short.
The children’s story time need not be limited to just a story. We may include other activities, such as a child’s testimony (thanksgiving, answered prayer, etc.), the dedication of a child, or a musical presentation by the children. This moment is also an educational opportunity, since many new members need orientation in ways to lead their children to the Lord.
The Voice of Youth. This is a program that allows children and teenagers to develop their gifts through preaching. Every year adequate and attractive material is prepared by some fields for this form of evangelism.
Vacation Bible School. This is a completely evangelistic program. The goal of the Children’s Ministries Department is to have each Adventist church and school offer this program once a year, with many non-Adventist children from the community involved, since behind every child there is a family. Generally the duration of this program is five days, for three hours in the morning or in the evening.
Permanent Bible classes. These will include baptismal classes as well as post baptismal classes for children. Some divisions, unions and conferences/missions are preparing special materials for this church program.
Small groups for children and/or led by children and teenagers. This activity has enriched the church’s spiritual life. It helps children to grow in Christ by sharing their faith with others.
The Adventist Child’s World Day. This is an excellent opportunity to invite friends and interests along with their children to a special Sabbath event with an attractive child-centered program and sermon. Check your conference calendar for the date.
Sabbath School Leadership Seminar. It is important to post on the announcement board the dates in which these seminars are being held so that teachers may attend and become more competent to guide the little lambs to the Good Shepherd, thus getting the Sabbath School divisions to supply the needs of each age group. It is an enriching experience, for many new ideas and resources may be shared in these seminars.
Children’s Stewardship Week. It is important to create a generation of faithful stewards. When a church has a week of prayer about stewardship at the same time a similar program should be prepared for children.
Community outreach projects. A loving church is interested in its surroundings and its neighborhood. With the help of the children, the church may address local needs and establish friendly contacts.
Each elder should feel part of this vital department. With God’s help and wisdom, they may influence, by precept and example, the children in their church, the future of the church. As we are reminded, “When Jesus told the disciples not to forbid the children to come to Him, He was speaking to His followers in all ages, to officers of the church, to ministers, helpers, and all Christians” (Desire of Ages, p. 517).
Children’s Ministries Department, South American Division
Pao-Kue Lin is an elder of Chien Shan Church in Taiwan. She belongs to the Punon cultural group and she is married to Chang Tu. They have two children, a boy and girl. Her son is studying ministerial training at Taiwan Adventist College. She has been an Adventist for 30 years and she has been appointed as a church elder for the last two years. She is involved in preaching and teaching the word of God, and as a fruit of her witnessing she has led three people to Jesus in 2007.