Equip for Ministry will be featuring selected churches in
the PCA excelling in the ministry of making kingdom disciples.
The following article features First Presbyterian Church of
Stanley, NC., Dan King senior pastor. The article by David
Nelson, associate pastor of Christian education and
discipleship,.was written at the request of EfM. Our
thanks to David for his assistance. We asked him to highlight
their ministry to the rising generation. We commend them for
their vision and desire to begin the discipleship process in the
early years of their covenant children’s lives.
Ministry for the Rising Generation
People were bringing little children to Jesus to
have Him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14
When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, "Let the
little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the
kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I tell
you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God
like a little child will never enter it." 16 And He
took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed
Jesus’ disciples try to keep little children in the background,
Jesus elevates them to the status of kingdom role models.
Jesus loves children! What is it about children that Jesus
adores? Like Him, they’re humble, meek, trusting, dependent,
untainted by the world, loving, accepting of others, not proud
or boastful. When Jesus says, "Let the little children come to
Me... for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these!” He’s
saying, “these are My people, this is what My people are like!
AND, they’re important to Me!... don’t disrespect them, push
them aside, or keep them in the background. In fact, you should
hold little children up as role models, because they’re like the
people in heaven!”
America, younger and younger children have ever-growing access
to anti-Christian philosophies through school, TV, internet,
music, and contact with “well-read” friends. Our
children’s potential saturation with ideas contrary to Christian
ideals is greater than it has been at any time in history!
Author Marva Dawn writes:
My experiences over thirty years of working with
thousands of young people in churches and schools, convocations
and camps make me especially troubled about children in
Christian families, members of the Church, residents of God’s
household. How are our children being formed? Do they know
themselves primarily as citizens of the kingdom of God? Do we
and our offspring look, act, talk, and think like people who are
shaped by the narratives of our faith, by God’s Revelation?
recent years First Presbyterian Church has seen the truth of
Dawn’s concern; therefore, we stepped up our efforts to confront
this rising tide of ideas which compete for our children’s
hearts and minds. In so doing, we’ve grown in our estimation of
children. We have greater ability to see our children as Jesus
sees them; kingdom role models most worthy of blessing,
time, energy, primary ministry resources, dignity and respect.
response to that challenge, we’ve worked to improve all of our
children’s ministries. Changes are made with an eye toward
equipping our children with the answers and attitudes of the
Christian world and life view necessary to help them
navigate the anti-Christian philosophies they’ll engage in the
future and, which we’ve learned, they already encounter to a
much greater extent than we realized.
are some things we do to equip them, and ourselves, in this
battle for hearts and minds?
Children’s Ministry Coordinator
- three years ago, a member with years of experience working
with children accepted our invitation to become our volunteer
Children’s Ministry Coordinator. She used training from the 2004
CE&P Children’s Ministry Conference to create a Sunday
school class, “Totally Equipped,” to prepare new teachers for
service; to give helpful advice toward our “Image Bearers”
ministry design (below); and to provide helpful encouragement in
all our children’s ministry endeavors which continue to develop.
- As we grew in awareness of the need to purposefully capture
our children’s heart and minds at a younger age, we decided to
create opportunities, in addition to Sunday school and Vacation
Bible School, to develop the Christian world and life view of
our younger children. Under God’s direction we created a
children’s ministry to help our first through fifth grade
children grow in: 1) Their ability to give an answer for their
hope in Christ (apologetics); 2) Their vision for and ability to
make disciples; and 3) Their ethic for Christian service.
Image Bearers, we use an innovative model that enables a
few adults to successfully provide this ministry. The basic
concepts we follow: 1) All the children stay together the whole
time; 2) One adult leads games, one provides a snack, one leads
music, and one teaches the lesson and provides a
lesson-enhancing activity or service project; 3) For music,
teaching, prayer, service projects and disciple-making -
children divide into family groups with an equal balance
of children from all grades; 4) We teach interactive lessons at
a third grade level where older children are coached by adult
leaders to help the youngest children and thus gain experience
and vision for disciple-making.
Sports Outreach and Recreation (SOAR)
- In 2004, our 16-year-old youth sports outreach ministry went
to a year-round status as we added our fourth sport - Spring
soccer. A concept that arose with our soccer league was the idea
to change from a head coach/assistant coach model to a
sport coach/prayer coach model. The sport coach
develops athletic and team skills, while the prayer coach
ensures prayer, team devotions, and spiritual encouragement
occur at every game and practice. This change has improved
spiritual aspects of our whole ministry! At our recent
basketball finale, we registered over forty first-time
commitments to Christ - the largest single SOAR event harvest
we’ve ever seen! Upholding the truth of Christ by elevating the
gospel among these young people is reaping great rewards!
Strategic Planning for Children’s Ministry
- In May of 2006, a retired businessman used his skills to lead
a First Presbyterian Church team of fifteen through a Strategic
Planning Session for Children’s Ministry. In our planning
session we produced a Mission Statement, a Vision statement, and
an Action Plan for children’s ministry while evaluating
strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Our strategic
planning continues to bear fruit as we’ve formed a Children’s
Ministry Team to focus on continued improvement and promotion of
children’s ministry in our congregation.
thank God for where He’s taken us in recent years. We’re
learning to be more like Jesus who said, "Let the little
children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of
God belongs to such as these...” And then He took the
children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them.
We look forward to God’s continued leading in this fight for
the hearts and minds of His youngest people! We’re grateful to
be a part of it!
From the The Holy Bible, New International Version,
Zondervan, ©1985. (Personal pronouns referring to Jesus
capitalized by the author.)
From, Is It A Lost Cause? Having the Heart of God for
the Church’s Children, by Marva Dawn, Wm. B.
Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, 1997, p. 3