Walking Out What Is Written Down
Archery. Darts. Golf. Disciple-making. What do these all have in common?
All are pursuits that improve with aim.
I think most people would grant this truth—that we are most successful in ministry when we are clear about our goals. This is why many ministry leaders are careful to take the time to write a mission statement or purpose for their programs on paper.
But what happens after you have them on paper?
For years our children’s ministry program has held as our stated vision that we are to be a place where kids are growing into life-long followers of Jesus. However, it became clear to me that while our vision was helpful, it was only as helpful as it was fully understood. As a team we needed to go deeper. Our aim was too vague. When pushed a little harder, most team members struggled to clearly articulate what being a follower of Jesus really implied. Everyone knew it had to do with being in relationship with Jesus—but if you want to hit a target like a bulls-eye or golf hole, you need to refine your aim. So it is with the discipleship of children.
So in a subsequent training meeting, we dug in deep. What followed was an honest conversation around what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The results were not only clarifying, but they have come to be the direction we now take as our aim.
Followers of Jesus Trust God
We desire to see kids trust God for their salvation, forgiveness, and sanctification. We will create opportunities to ensure that the story of God’s faithfulness is shared, and that kids discover they can trust God to meet all their needs today and for their days ahead.
Followers of Jesus Converse with God
We want kids to learn that prayer is an ongoing conversation with God. We will design our schedule and activities to include ample time and reduced volume so that kids will not only discover about God, but they will actually encounter God through prayer and quiet reflection. We want to model for kids that prayer is about being with God, so we will be mindful to encourage listening prayer, and trust that God will speak.
Followers of Jesus Know God’s Story
We want kids to discover God in the grand narrative of the Bible. We will include in our programming a balance of time for Bible study, Scripture memory work, and practice in retelling God’s story. Our aim is firmly set on introducing this story so we all may encounter God ourselves. We will support the thoughtful process of drawing connections between what we learn about God in the Bible, and how God reveals Himself to us in our own lives.
Followers of Jesus Walk with Others
We want to give our children a way to make lasting relationships and connections with other followers of Jesus. We will create opportunities for kids to be known by others, to worship in our sanctuary, and to be supported by their whole faith family.
Followers of Jesus Make Room for God
We will create a counter-cultural experience for our children, one in which they may taste what it is to observe Sabbath, enjoy some silence as a way to connect with God, and to be challenged to let go of anything that keeps them from Him.
Followers of Jesus Follow God’s Lead
We want children to feel loved and to love abundantly, to be well served and encouraged to serve others selflessly. We will look for ways to show grace as we have been shown grace in Jesus, and we will value and celebrate the genuine faith of young people who follow Jesus with boldness and courage.
This is our aim, and it has been helpful to clearly articulate it with as much detail as we can. More important still has been the way our team has endeavored to walk out what has been written down. Getting the words off the page and into practice is an exciting way to serve.
Where is God setting your course? What is the vision set before you in children’s ministry? I pray that you will be faithful in your call to disciple, patient as God refines your aim, and bold as you follow through on the course before you.