Back to church with vision

After months of being unable to meet during pandemic control measures, many churches are re-opening. The guidelines recommended for re-opening in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, however, make the church experience quite different from what we knew at the beginning of March, especially for children’s programs. It’s understandable that a commitment to safety is guiding when and how children’s programs are re-opening, but how can we be equally committed to the needs and opportunities for discipleship during this transition?

Four commitments for discipling children while reopening church

For church leaders and parents seeking to navigate the season ahead, here are four commitments to guide ministry to children in this time of reopening churches, along with resources to help.

1. Rebuild from a biblical vision for discipleship

Instead of working towards re-starting children’s programs as they existed in early March, churches have the opportunity to rethink the components of their children’s ministry and to rebuild with programs, activities, lessons, and resources anchored in a biblical vision for discipleship. This is also a valuable time for parents to consider what their vision is for their children and what it takes to guide their children to a mature faith in Christ.
Vision for discipleship

2. Grow in partnership between church and home

Over the last couple of months, churches and parents have had to change how they relate to each other in guiding the faith of children. After adjusting to children’s programs not being able to meet in person, churches and families are now having to make adjustments that require even more partnership.

Based on local guidelines, churches are re-opening with one of two scenarios: 1) Meeting again for a worship service, but delaying the start of children’s programs (with family members together for the service, but spread apart from others) or 2) Meeting again for worship and children’s programs (with both limited by a range of guidelines for distancing and healthy operations). In either scenario, there are vulnerable church members who are still unable to meet with the larger body and need support similar to what the church provided while being closed.

Any church meeting with families together would benefit from a vision and practical suggestions for including children in the worship service.
Vision for discipleship

3. Put a rock of truth under children

The season of reopening has proven to be challenging and marked by uncertainty, but that has always been true. It’s only now more obvious that the things we and our children plan on (and even hope in) are not certain. It’s more clear now that children need to build their lives on a rock of truth. When inevitable troubles come, we want children to be deeply rooted in the granite truth of the promises of God. We want them to have a rock-solid faith that remains steadfast and proves genuine in the face of the challenges we’re facing now, but also through the grief, marital problems, miscarriage, wayward children, disability, cancer, hostility, persecution, or whatever trouble may come their way in life.
Vision for discipleship
The Fighter Verses Study will help guide you and your family through key Scripture passages and arm you with tools to strengthen your faith in Christ and equip you to fight the fight of faith. Use Part A materials for 13 weeks over the summer to encourage one another through the battles of life. See sample pages.

4. Pray with dependence on God’s sovereign grace

When so many things are uncertain, we’re reminded how utterly dependent we always are on God. Our starting point is God-dependent prayer—for our church body, our pastors, elders, deacons, teachers, parents and for our children and youth. Among our prayers in this season, let's pray for fruit in teaching the next generation—praying that:
  • teachers who are making the effort to reach children in spite of limitations would clearly proclaim God's Word and that children would have attentive ears, minds, and hearts.
  • parents would feel assisted and helped, and would be moved and equipped to actively disciple the children in their home.
  • every child in our church would, by God’s sovereign grace, grow and mature into a man or woman wholly devoted to Jesus Christ.
Vision for discipleship