The What and Why of Children’s Discipleship at FUMC Hurst

I shared these things at the parent meeting the other night and I’ve realized that some of you may be new around here, or maybe we just haven’t had these conversations in a while, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a few things about Children’s Discipleship so that our entire congregation knows what Children’s Discipleship is all about at FUMC Hurst.

Why do I work in Children’s Ministry?

In addition to children deepening their relationship with God, there are also other reasons a child’s faith journey and discipleship matters. Here’s one thing to consider (it also happens to be one of the main reasons I left my previous job and came to work here as the Director of Discipleship with Children and Their Families over 5 years ago). ACES stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences and it is a list of adverse things that can happen in a child’s life and have long-term impacts. Research shows https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/aces/resources.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fviolenceprevention%2Facestudy%2Fresources.html that a higher ACES score is correlated to certain lifelong medical, mental health and other challenges. Research also shows that there are protective factors that help build up a child’s resilience and protect them from some of these challenging outcomes. This handout https://cssp.org/resource/core-meanings-of-the-strengthening-families-protective-factors/  shows these protective factors. A child’s/family’s discipleship journey and connection to a faith community has some level of influence in ALL 5 protective factors. A child’s faith journey isn’t ONLY about his/her faith journey, it has more long-term impacts on them than people realize.

Children’s Discipleship is committed to providing an environment that is:

  • safe for all children – We ensure that all adults have undergone background checks and completed MinistrySafe training and we follow COVID protocols.
  • sacred and meaningful – where children are provided with interactive discipleship opportunities allowing them deepen their discipleship by connecting with God, People, and Purpose. All opportunities fit one (or more) of the 6 areas of discipleship.
  • supportive and loving – where each child is honored for being just the way God made him/her.

What is the vision of Children’s Discipleship/Children’s Ministry?

With each baptism, we take our promises seriously to teach children the stories of Jesus so that His story may become their story. This is not just about teaching and learning…this is about all of the 6 areas of discipleship that fall under connecting with people, purpose, and God. This includes prayer and worship, learning, caring and sharing, serving, and tithing. This also includes fellowship with one another and providing opportunities for children for be transformed by their spiritual experiences.

Important things to remember about Children’s Discipleship:

  • The discipleship journey of children happens BOTH at home AND at church.
  • Faith formation and discipleship journeys happen at church with BOTH staff AND volunteers who serve with children.
  • The more positive adult influences in a child’s life, the better (yes, this is a plug for you to please come serve with the kids or youth)!
  • Discipleship journeys start from the time children are born, continues until children graduate from high school, and continues beyond that. It is lifelong.
  • There are discipleship milestones that mark different points throughout a child’s discipleship journey, but discipleship is not and should not be limited to only these events and is not limited only to Sunday School or Sunday evening activities.

Children’s/Youth Discipleship Milestones (with developmentally appropriate supports along the way):

  • Special prayer at birth- Rose on altar, Birth Announcement to congregation, Jesus Loves Me book
  • Baptism- Toddler Bible
  • Kinder Blessing – Kinder Bible
  • Kinder Worship Unit – Kinder Worship Service
  • 3rd Grade Bible – Bible Buddies
  • Confirmation – 6th grade Bible
  • Rite 12

Additional Children’s Discipleship opportunities:

  • Choir
  • Faith and Films – we practice noticing where we see God at work in the world (starting in films)
  • Leadership Team – How to lead/serve at church
  • Wonderfully Made
  • Holy Listening
  • Family Ties Parenting Classes
  • Other discipleship opportunities: VBS, Mission Trips, Mission Possible Kids,  Intergenerational Discipleship Opportunities, etc.

How has COVID impacted these plans over the past 18 months?

  • COVID has impacted HOW these discipleship opportunities occurred with children, but COVID has NOT stopped these things from happening. Many of these milestones and opportunities have happened outdoors, with masks, on front porches at homes, over Zoom, at local parks, in a drive-through fashion, and in a scavenger hunt format in the church parking lot. The discipleship opportunities have still been sacred, holy and meaningful experiences and connections with people, purpose, and God have continued to happen over the last 18 months, just in different ways.

What are the plans for Fall 2021 due to COVID?

  • Things have changed drastically w COVID numbers over the past month, so we are putting some plans on delay for now. We are having in-person children’s Sunday School on Sunday mornings and we will kick-off Mission Possible Kids on Sunday evening, Sept. 26th. In the meantime, we are conducting a survey with parents to see if we need to add back porch visits or small group gatherings since the COVID numbers have escalated again. ALL families with children 5th grade and younger are strongly encouraged to complete this survey asap so that we can move forward with re-planning fall opportunities.

What does Children’s Discipleship need right now?

  • Prayers: Prayers for the safety and well-being of our parents, volunteers, staff and especially our unvaccinated children.
  • Responses: Families to respond to the survey to tell us 1. the current level of COVID precautions they are taking; 2.where/how they feel their family is being called to be involved in children’s discipleship at FUMC Hurst; and 3. the ways their family may be feeling disconnected and needing support/to connect. See link to parent survey above.
  • Volunteers (of ALL ages) to join us in Children’s Discipleship on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and/or at special events/community events (watch the e-news for upcoming opportunities).

Did you miss the parent meeting? Do you want to hear more?

Be sure to check out Rev. Donna’s promise to parents re: Sunday mornings (17 minute mark), Rev. Holly’s message to 6th graders, Matt Rodgers message to Youth, and Lynn Rhodes message to high school seniors. Check out the recording below.

Have Questions? Contact me at JAcker@fumchurst.org

Want to learn about ways to serve in Children’s Discipleship? Contact Abbie at aareallano@fumchurst.org

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