We are building the concept by watching what we see Father God doing, listening to the leading and observing what the bible and observation tells us of children's experience of Jesus.
It is not yet clear whether Children's Ministry or Family Church is the outcome.
A NOTE ON CURRICULUM: Family Church in its various forms and concepts will become increasingly important as society works to instil values that sound different from traditional teachings.
We need to sort through the social and recently institutionalised messages, to integrate and include the portions that represent progress for society, such as increasing respect and tolerance of all people. We also need to filter for some forms and elements of increasing intolerance or misinformation especially towards Christian values. Or perceived Christian values.
-Limited hours (up to 1 or 1.5 hours)
-play and worship can be combined; toys, instruments, space to dance, are all available but not imposed (brought back when restless).
-Children or parents choose readings and share on them
-Children are equally encouraged to share a prayer or share what God has put on their heart or what God has done in their lives.
-This can help parents establish time with God in the home and open the conversation.
Q: The question about this approach is how to ensure parents and children feel free to share.
Q: Are toys put away with instruments or left out? Are children encouraged to engage fully as a group or listen passively as an option?
Children deserve to experience the same live presence of God as in the service. Often effort is made to prepare a sermon for the congregation, sometimes Holy Spirit is sought live or during the
week for a message, and yet the children receive babysitting or stories or a canned presentation. Some of these are incredible, Spirit filled and a blessing. We love one in particular that
emphasise needing Holy Spirit for the session. (The facilitator and program unlocked several families' conversation about and with God.) However, who would settle for a prepackaged
message in the sanctuary?
We long to find the balance, moving away from a secondary model of ministry and towards an experience and combination of God's presence with the whole family, in all the church's giftings, with elders and pastors, teachers, healers and personal fellowship, witnessing and sharing. One which fully acknowledges that children have an inner spirit who is ageless and should be given the opportunity to walk their walk with God all of their days. If we are not like children we will not enter the kingdom of heaven, how much more do we need to let them heal and teach us and stop hiding our mentors and examples?
Sounds easy but...! We usually fail to have the discernment that reveals when they are being rowdy by another spirit and when they are following God's leading.
It feels like God shows us what church could look like for families,
from examples of His Presence and what may be key principles.
While meeting with a friend, in a children's play area, we began to get very real about challenges and God's light and Word on the situation. As we spoke of Jesus' promises and encouragement, we noticed that many children had not only gathered into the foam pit beside us but they drew near and were lounging as if in a river of Peace. What a gift and suddenly it became obvious that this was church.
Modelling our teaching on how Jesus discipled His followers to this day.
His Love is the most powerful way of engaging our little ones. How He loved overcame everything else.
What He did spoke volumes.
Sometimes we receive a generation's prompting to use discipline and there is room for nudges to curb behavior however mercy wins a heart.
We don't want to miss His heart in what the children are doing.
One child skipped around a classroom as the Lord instructed, unbeknownst to mom it was a simple act of obedience to lift an attack. At another time, a child skipped around a room at the Lord's urging as the Lord showed that mom that this was His leading and shared the message with her.
We want to walk with them on these exciting journeys.. while maintaining respect, safety and kindness in their environment.
Straying away from formula and leaving room for God's spirit to lead, we can still prompt and make time to read bible passages chosen and/or read by the children.
Children teaching children?!?!
Some of our greatest lessons are from the pure simplicity of a child.