As I begin this new role as Director of Children’s Ministries,  I am continually asking myself the “why.”

 

Why do we need a Children’s ministry? To preserve the warmth of the coffee a parent is able to drink while their children are being babysat? To keep the service quiet so the adults can worship and do the real work? 

 

The truth is, we need the Children’s Ministry because children deserve it and everyone else can learn from it! Let’s think about 1 Timothy 4:12- “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”  Oftentimes, we view children through a deficit mindset. We think that they cannot develop their own faith, and we tell them, “I’ll explain when you’re older.” We tend to think if we can just get them through adolescence and immaturity, they can finally start developing an “adult faith.”

 

Imagine the seed for discipleship that is planted when we support children in their spiritual journey from the moment they are handed off to our nursery workers to be nurtured and loved in a safe space. Though we are guilty of underestimating the power of children, we as their trusted adults are the best ways they can experience God’s love, before they ever even speak. Children are born with a powerful sense of wonder and faith. When we nurture their curiosity with education, opportunity, and example, we help them become rooted in their faith and devoted to discipleship. They become free to question, and become empowered to turn their warmed hearts into active hands that serve and seek transformation. They learn the power of prayer, and turn to Him in situations we may feel will just “work themselves out.” They make mistakes just as often as adults, but they seem to understand the prevenient grace that was already given before any sinful decisions. We have a lot to learn from children! 

 

My vision and plan for serving the children and their families at St. James is to never underestimate the gift of a child. They deserve to be surrounded by enthusiastic followers of Jesus who want to see them be successful in all their walks of life. They deserve developmentally appropriate programs that meet them right where they are. They deserve opportunities to fellowship in a safe, welcoming environment that won’t silence their joy. They deserve safe spaces to question and grow in their faith, theology, and discipleship. 1 Corinthians 12:14-15, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many.  If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. When we believe that the church is the body of Christ, we don’t mean children are just a foot we could live without, we mean they’re a vital part of the whole body which we must treat as such. We must also understand the important role that other parts of the body have in Children’s Ministry. I am committed to welcome, support, and equip volunteers and families so that they can be active participants in the spiritual growth of children. Together, as we are blessed by the gift of children, we will work to encourage them to respond in faith to a personal relationship with Christ, providing opportunities to discover their gifts so that they can share them with the world.  

 

Emleigh Hughes

Director of Children’s Ministries