As a church, when it comes to ministering to children and their families, our primary aim is to help parents to raise their children to become mature followers of Jesus. Underneath this primary aim are three ways that we that accomplish this.
We seek to teach children the whole counsel of God.
We seek to help parents be the smile of God to their children.
We seek to create a church culture that welcomes children in Jesus’s name.
Last week, Pastor Michael exhorted us on the first of these by highlighting the role that Sunday School plays in teaching children the whole counsel of God. Sunday School for pre-K through elementary school will begin in a few weeks, and we encourage you to sign up using the app. Additionally, we do have a few spots remaining for teachers in our three age groups (pre-K; K-2nd; 3rd-6th), and you can reach out to me or Pastor Michael if you’re interested.
For today’s exhortation, I want to mention two initiatives related to the other two aspects of our ministry to children and families. First, over the next year, we’re planning to organize some parenting check-ins by clusters of community groups in which I’ll come to offer some teaching on parenting as well as answering questions and checking in with our parents on issues that they’re facing. Stay tuned for more information on these check-in sessions.
Second, the main way that we cultivate a church culture that welcomes children in Jesus’s name is through our childcare serve rotation. Every week a different team of community groups rotates through and staffs childcare during this service. Our baseline expectation is that the vast majority of our members will serve children and their parents in this way. Once every five weeks, we expect that most of you—if you’re a member—will arrive to church early, set-up the rooms, pray for grace, and then receive children in Jesus’s name. There are some specific exemptions for those who are regularly serving the congregation in other ways (worship and setup). But for most of you, we need you to serve in childcare. We’re reminding you of this now for a couple of pressing reasons.
Our volunteer numbers have languished at various times over the last few months. Most Serve Team has at least 40+ members to draw from, and yet we’ve had a number of weeks where we’ve only had a mere 12-15 volunteers. Some of this is because of summer travel. Some of it is because we’ve not prioritized serving in this way.
With the launch of Redeemer Church next week, we are sending some of our most dedicated volunteers to begin a new gospel advance in the Twin Cities. One of the places that we will feel their absence is in childcare.
In light of that, here is the exhortation. If you’ve never completed our childcare training process or been included on a childcare serve team, press in and do so. We need your help in serving children and their families. Contact Joanna Polley (firstname.lastname@example.org) for information on the process for being trained and approved for childcare. If you have completed training, but have simply not been serving with your team, we’d ask that you’d renew your commitment to being there every five weeks, eager and ready to serve.
And we ask that you do this because it’s good for the children of this church. Every week, you’re making deposits. You’re showing them Jesus by playing with them, smiling at the them, and receiving them in Jesus’s name. Years of that kind of faithful care is storing up a good deposit that we trust and pray God will use to awaken and strengthen their faith.
Our Father and God, you have given us the tremendous blessing of children. Not only our children, but the children of others are a great and glorious blessing to us. They teach us humility, simplicity of faith, and a thousand other good things. Children are indeed a gift from you.
But we confess that we have grown weary in doing good. Our energy and enthusiasm in manning our childcare ministry has waned. The challenges of our space, the hassle of arriving early, the difficulty of watching young children—we have allowed these things to smother our eagerness to receive the children of this church in Jesus’s name, and at times to find excuses to not show up. As a result, we’ve placed an added burden on those who have volunteered. You promise that in receiving children in Jesus’s name, we get more of Jesus, and so in missing them, we’ve missed you. We acknowledge that at times we have not approached our ministry to children in the way that we ought, and that this is a great evil. Forgive us for our weariness and renew our hearts with your grace. Have mercy upon us, O Lord.
Lord, we know that if we in the church regard sin in our own hearts, our prayers will be ineffectual, so we confess our individual sins to you now.
Father, we thank you for Christ who invited the children to come to him. Not only that, but he invites us to come to him like little children, in humility and faith. Thank you for receiving us because of Jesus. Help us to serve the children of this church in the strength that you supply so that you receive the glory. By your Holy Spirit, renew our hearts so that our thoughts, desires, loves, words, and deeds align with your own. Through Christ we pray, Amen.