"Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray." Proverbs 22:6
At a baby’s baptism or baby dedication, a promise is made by parents and church members to nurture the child in the Christian faith. Christian parents and family members pray that they can raise this little person to be a disciple of Jesus. Church members vow to support the little one’s spiritual growth. But how is this done? Can it happen in one or two hours on Sunday morning or is there something more that churches need to foster?
While the activities that happen on Sunday morning are crucial, I believe that leading our youngest disciples compels the church body to offer opportunities for spiritual growth beyond Sunday School and worship. Ministries of the church can support and encourage families as they guide their children through various components of discipleship.
In a recent blog series discussing faith-at-home, I highlighted these discipleship components:
- engaging in spiritual conversation
- serving others
- studying scripture and building prayer life
- developing Christian relationships
Engaging families in Christian service
In order to help families wade into the water of Christian service, my church has conducted service events such as prayer walks, neighborhood trash collection, outdoor churchyard maintenance, and leaf raking. We are considering future projects such as stocking shelves in a food pantry, compiling flood buckets, visiting local nursing homes, and making care packages for those serving in the military.
Matthew 18:20 gives us Jesus’ words “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Whether taking a prayer walk or picking up trash, this scripture reminds us to gather in His name.
I believe that it is critical that leaders envelop the event in prayer and share a few comments about the holy purpose. In this context, when multiple generations work and serve together in the name of Jesus, children have the opportunity to wade into the water of Christian service with people of all ages. And they can personally experience the joy of being the hands and feet of Christ
Imagine a fellowship hall filled with people, young and old, male and female; talking, laughing and tying blankets to be used to comfort victims of abuse, served by a local children’s advocacy center. The group has been reminded that they are serving God by caring for his children. As they work, they begin to talk at their tables. Many children are showing the adults how to tie the blankets. The adults are telling stories about childhood memories of church. Everyone is working toward a common goal. A joyful buzz fills the room.
When we did this service project at our church as part of a fall kick-off, 75 people made 15 blankets.
While some might see success in the product (15 blankets!), the real success was people of all ages coming together in the name of Jesus Christ. As they connected through service, they were able to not only bless the recipients of the blankets, but also those working with them.
It is my prayer that this spirit-filled service experience will help families live into “starting children off on the way they should go.”
We hope this inspires your creative minds, finding ways to collaborate with youth and adult ministries. If you have any exciting ways you have engaged families in Christian services please share them, we would love to hear the great work you are doing!