the ekklesia commitment to families and children
Virtually all the debate over the discipleship of young people begins with the assumption that church structures and programs such as the nursery, children’s church, Sunday school, and youth group are foundational discipleship tools; and whatever happens must take place within that framework.
But what if those things didn’t exist?
How then would we propose a plan for one generation to “tell the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders that He has done.”
If we open the pages of the Bible, we find a world where all these ‘programs’ didn’t exist. We find a disciple-making model that looks nothing like the institutional structures we’ve become so familiar with, where parents drop their kids off expecting someone to entertain and teach them some Truth. What we find in the Bible is the family shepherds model where disciple making is the responsibility of the parent.
Research shows us two things about kids and God. First, most people that come to faith in Christ, do so before the age of 18. Second, most people that leave church do so right when they turn 19. What this tells us is that children love God and are drawn to Him at an early age. They’re able to understand His story and learn to live in His ways. Yet, it also tells us that as they grow, most often the simple story becomes veiled by legalism, rules and religion, leaving our children jaded and ready to “take a break.”
At ekklesia, we take this seriously and build our ministry to children around the same values we live as adults. We desire to see them raised in Christ, not the church. Some distinctives of our philosophy include:
- Children learn best through action, not just classroom teaching, and so we include them in worship, communion, community, service, and mission… everything!
- Children’s primary teaching and modeling must come from parents first, then the church and community next. So we partner with parents in mentoring and discipling children in kingdom values and a missional worldview. Our energy goes into equipping parents, not doing their job for them, because we believe parents are the pastors of their homes.
- Children must have a constant expectation that mom and dad are the core mechanism to teach them the truth. We initiate that through Sunday a.m. Family Gatherings which have parents and children together in a discipleship setting that educates, encourages, and equips the entire family instead of scattering them in various locations.
- Children are capable of everything, so we teach them to pray, to worship, to read and apply scripture to their lives, to bless others and be on mission with God.
- Children need both parents to be involved in their lives. We know that is not always the case. We come alongside single parents and stand with those who have missing parents to help them understand and experience the fullness of family and God’s love.
As servants, parents, teachers, mentors, and friends, our desire is that all our kids learn to know God without all the religious trapping that may someday push them away. Our primary means for this is to simply live by HIS life before them, allowing them to flourish in their own unique way and include them in the life of our communities so they grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only God’s Good News but our lives, too.”
1 Thessalonians 2:8