Connected in Faith
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it has taught us that we need connection. Even when we could not be gathered in person, we creatively found ways to stay connected during times of social distancing. I recently read a children’s ministry blog talking about the effect of distancing in the church over the past few decades. Some of us may be familiar with the term “silos:” the ministry strategy where children, youth, and adults were separated within the church—both in physical space and programming. It was common for each age group to have its own space, Bible studies, and worship time with barely any interaction with one another. At the time, leaders believed it was the best way to retain faithful church attendance—“give the kids fun and excitement with their friends, and they will continue to come to church as adults.” Unfortunately, that is not what happened. As children aged out of children and youth programming, church dropped off their radar. Studies show that this occurred because they no longer felt connected to the church. They had rarely interacted with older generations in the church, so when the “fun” programming ended, the connection to their church evaporated.
We are taking a different approach to children and youth ministry. Yes, they still need time with their peers to learn and develop Christian friendships. But it is essential that they also build relationships with adults in the church. Though parents have the biggest influence in the spiritual development of their children, the whole church has a role to play. When a child is baptized, the congregation pledges to help that child mature and grow as a follower of Jesus. Children need adult leaders to help them read and study God’s word. Children need faithful adults who will pray for them daily. Children need to serve their church and community alongside adults. Children need adults to simply smile and greet them by name.
Think about it this way: if your family was having a celebration, would you exclude the children from the celebration? I hope not! Worship is a weekly celebration for God’s family—all are invited and welcome to participate. We want to be a connected church. Our children join us for worship on Sunday morning so they can witness generations of Christians worship God. Our children participate in the worship service by reading or being part of the worship team. Our children serve alongside adults. The students in our church are currently being prayed for by a group of faithful adults. Connections among generations built through prayer, worshipping together, and serving alongside one another will outlast any programming we can offer. We were designed to live in community and connection as followers of Jesus.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47