By Kristin Devine Mueller
I know that you value Children’s Ministry at ECC, and I know that this church has a long history of valuing children as a part of God’s kingdom. About 18 months ago I was blessed to be able to join the staff here, and I have truly enjoyed working with the church to help create, nurture, and sustain a place for children in our congregation.
I think we do this in two ways – we create same-age spaces where children are completely free to be children, like in our Kids Out Loud classes, our nursery rooms, our Wednesday Kids Club, and Summer XP. When you come into one of those spaces, you’ll see a large team of volunteers reaching kids on their level. You’ll see (and hear) children engaged through all the different learning styles. I love these spaces and these places, and I’m so thankful for the volunteers who give their time and talents each and every week.
It’s been my goal to also create a space for our children in worship, in the Sanctuary, with the larger body of Christ. We try to do this through songs that children learn to sing both for us and with us, through our Bible presentations, through events like Bump-Up Sunday, through our bookshelf of resources in the Sanctuary, and through children reading Scripture. We’ve been experimenting this fall with spaces for children to play instruments and spaces for children to create art. We’ve had videos and skits on Unity Sundays, and just this month we celebrated and taught about communion in worship, on a Sunday when we knew the children would be present with us.
Our summer worship format was a mix of these two styles. We created both a worship space and a space for children to be with same-age peers. During the summer months the children began with us for songs and prayer, and we shared in a spoken blessing together. We then invited children to participate in a worship experience outside the sanctuary, and we had them return to the sanctuary during our closing songs.
We do all this because we want our children to know God, follow Jesus, and pursue God’s purposes in the world. We want them to have a strong foundation in faith, before they are 10 years old, so that they don’t walk away from the church when they get older. In the video, we heard that 55% of children will never set foot inside a church. That means that 55% of the children in Lafayette – 55% of the children we see at the grocery store, at the library, in our schools – will never set foot inside a church. That’s a lot of children!
Let’s talk about numbers here at ECC. This summer, we were able to track that 74 unique children came to children’s worship during our 10:30 service. Our database shows that we saw at least 84 unique children during the school year in our Kids Out Loud classes. The number is actually higher – we’ve been tracking this fall and we have seen 110 unique children in our preschool through 6th grade classes on Sunday mornings. These numbers are just class numbers though – they don’t include the children who have special needs and meet with one-on-one aides, and they don’t include the children in the nursery, and they don’t include the children who stay with their family in worship. These numbers also don’t include the children who come for our MOPS kids programs, or the children who are on our campus for events like our Fall Kick-Off or Trunk or Treat. We’re just starting to track our numbers more closely, and we want to expand our data so that we include all the children who come through our doors. We see a lot of children during the year! We want to make sure that we are always creating room for those 55% of children, who are predicted to never enter our doors. I think we’ve got some of them coming through the doors already, and we want them to encounter the life-changing love of Jesus Christ!
Yet, we know that we can still do more to develop children as disciples, to equip parents as spiritual mentors, to empower children to participate in our church, and to reach out to engage the children of Lafayette. This spring, we’ll begin a journey with Steve Burger, the Covenant Church’s Director of Children, Family, and Intergenerational Ministry. This journey is called Legacy, and it will help us reimagine children’s place of priority in God’s kingdom. I’ve got one other short video to show you…
The Legacy journey will begin here at ECC on Sunday, April 19, the first Sunday after Easter. Steve Burger will be here to preach in worship, and then he will lead an afternoon experience where we assess and celebrate our current children’s ministry, identify which one of the four framework pieces we want to focus on in the coming year, and dream and plan how we can begin this work. We’ll be inviting pastors, church leaders, and children’s leaders to join together in this experience. Each of you could very easily fit into that group of people, and if you are a leader in our church or in our children’s ministry, we would love to have you join us.
There is always room for more of you to lead with us in Children’s Ministry, and there is always room for you to make a kingdom impact in the lives of our children. We have a wonderful team of volunteers, but volunteer recruitment in the world of children’s ministry never stops. If your heart was touched by the video, come sit in the nursery with our little ones, come greet at our welcome desks, or come teach in a class. There are always openings and needs to fill, and we currently have openings for nursery workers, greeters, and teachers. If you want to get more involved, please come talk to me. If you want to read more about our upcoming Legacy journey, I have flyers that I will gladly share with you. Thank you!