Julie McKinnon on What Comes Next: Children and Families Ministry
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age” Matt 28:19-20
What does ‘make disciples’ look like in Children and Families Ministry in the current climate?
This is a crucial question to ponder as we think about what comes next. We have an unprecedented opportunity to reflect on the core purpose of our ministry and evaluate if what we are doing contributes to that goal.
We want the children we work with to love Jesus for the rest of their lives. Discipleship is at the heart of our ministry. This mission has not changed, but perhaps the method has. Maybe it is time to hone our focus to what really contributes to making disciples.
What is the church’s role in a child’s discipleship journey? Aren’t parents primarily responsible for the faith formation of their children? It is true that parents have the God given responsibility to disciple their children; our role is to partner with them as they do this.
Partnership is about working together; it’s about filling the gaps and deficits of the other. Yes, parents are called to be the primary nurturers of their children’s faith and we can support, equip and encourage them in this.
However, there are many parents who are not able or willing to do this. Not all children have Christian parents, and of those who do, many are not engaging in regular faith rhythms with their children. Who will fill these gaps?
We, the body of Christ, have a responsibility to stand in the gap as family for those children whose parents are missing or unable to provide spiritual nourishment. Even for those who do get intentional spiritual input at home, church family fills the gap of community; it allows them to experience the contagious, communal faith of the body of Christ. Every child needs the love of a caring adult who is not their parent.
What comes next is an opportunity to step out of the day to day mechanics of ministry and take a balcony view. What is the big picture? What is our vision? Is discipleship really at the core of ALL we do?
It’s time for some critical conversations. Is what we are currently doing producing something lasting that will travel with our kids into adulthood? What would Children’s Ministry look like if we really prioritised captivating our kid’s hearts for the gospel? What does it look like to partner with parents to raise resilient disciples who love Jesus for the rest of their lives?
What if we refocussed our energy on discipleship rather than programmes and renewed our passion to see children grow in knowledge, love and relationship with Jesus?