Linda Mei Lin Koh
Children! How should we describe them? Energetic? Spontaneous?
Candid? Wiggly? Believing? Accepting? No wonder leading children's ministries
is extreme! It is extremely exhausting and extremely fulfilling. On any Sabbath,
you may find yourself sweating, crying, running, hugging, laughing, stooping
down, reaching up, wanting to escape, and wanting to savor priceless, eternal
moments. But hang in there, because it's worth it all!
It is this bundle of energy and the accepting, believing spirit
that Jesus tells us to emulate: "Whoever humbles himself like this child
is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:4, NIV). Supporting
this idea is the recent research by George Barna, who found that most people
who accept Jesus as their Savior do so between the ages of 5 and 14. Yes, children
do make decisions to follow Jesus. They are vital to the growth of our church--today
Therefore, the mission of the Children's Ministries Department is to nurture
children into a loving, serving relationship with Jesus. To accomplish this,
the department focuses on the following areas of emphasis:
1. Grace-oriented ministries, in which all children will experience the
unconditional love of Jesus, find assurance of acceptance and forgiveness, and
make a commitment to Him.
2. Inclusive ministries, in which the volunteers who
minister and the children to whom they minister will be valued and involved
regardless of race, color, language, gender, age, abilities, or socioeconomic
3. Leadership ministries, in which volunteers are empowered,
trained, and equipped for
effective ministry to children.
4. Service-oriented ministries, in which children are
given opportunities for hands-on service to people in their neighborhood or
city, thus establishing a pattern of outreach to others that may well continue
5. Safe ministries, whereby our churches (a) choose volunteers
with high spiritual and moral backgrounds and (b) adopt safeguards to protect
children from physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse, and the church from
6. Cooperative ministries, which involve working with
other ministries, such as Family Ministries, Sabbath School and Personal Ministries,
and Stewardship Ministries to further our shared goals.
The Department of Children's Ministries celebrates God's gift
of children in our churches today. Children's ministries on all levels of the
church as well as in the local churches organize many nurturing programs that
actively involve children on Sabbath, during the week, and at vacation time.
Children have the opportunity to participate in small groups, retreats, evangelism,
preaching, and outreach to the community. For teachers and other volunteers
who work with children and teach children's Sabbath schools, training courses
are also planned for them.
At the General Conference Children's Ministries Department,
a number of significant advances have been made in the past quinquennium
to facilitate leadership training, nurturing, discipling, and developing of
resources for children.
Resources for Leaders
In response to the need for training and educating children's ministries directors
on the various levels of the church, the department published the much needed
Children's Ministries Handbook. This manual contains policies and guidelines
for directing the ministry, as well as suggested programs for nurturing and
discipling children in the faith. A separate booklet, How to Organize Children's
Ministries in the Local Church, was developed for children's ministries
coordinators to assist them in planning their ministry in the churches.
To help our local church leadership to better understand and
support the ministry, the Children's Ministries Department collaborated with
the Ministerial Association to publish the Pastor's and Elder's Manual for
Children's Ministries before the 2005 General Conference session. This is
given out to all pastors and local church elders.
In May 2004 the department published KidsNewsZone, a
quarterly newsletter with news and resource materials for children's leaders.
Through this publication, children's ministries directors around the world have
the opportunity to share ministry ideas.
In October 2004 children's ministries launched its Web site
at www.childrensministries.gc.adventist.org. The Web site contains resources
for teachers, parents, and children's leaders, as well as departmental news,
articles, tips, and ideas for working with children. A new section was also
developed: Just for Kids! It provides devotionals, activities, and crafts to
capture a child's interest.
Resources for Children
In the summer of 2000 Ellen G. White's classic book The Great Controversy
was adapted for children ages 8-12 and published under the title Michael
Asks Why. Children are introduced to last-day events through the main text
and an activity book.
As radio is a popular medium of communication in many countries
of the world, the department produced the Bible Explorers Club in December
2000. This is a radio series for children ages 9-12, with lively discussion
on various topics related to a main theme, such as health, the Ten Commandments,
Two years later the department released God's Treasure Chest,
a CD with two-minute radio spots of children asking questions, and a person
answering them from God's Word. Several countries are using these short radio
spots on air.
To help fortify the minds of the children, and to help them
understand the fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the
department has produced God Loves Me 27 Ways. Each doctrine is explained
briefly, followed by illustrations, puzzles, games, and songs to help each child
sing it, play it, and draw it.
As children's health problems are on the increase with statistics
showing escalating numbers in obesity, diabetes, and mental stress, the department
believes it vital that we help our children realize the importance of living
a healthy lifestyle. Utilizing the program of the Health Ministries Department
called Celebrations, the Children's Ministries Department made plans
to produce the children's version of this much-acclaimed program, Children's
Celebrations, targeting December 2005 as the completion date. This will
be a great resource for leaders, teachers, and parents to use for teaching children
how to maintain good physical and mental health.
One of the greatest needs of the department is the training of children's leaders.
As children's ministries leaders on the various levels of the church are changed
whenever a constituency meeting occurs, a cry for training has rung out so that
we can empower these new leaders. Therefore, a leadership certification program
was organized to meet this need. This certification program is composed of nine
courses, and aims to train children's ministries leaders and teachers to understand
active learning, learning styles, faith development, and teaching with grace,
among other things. All the courses are produced on a CD with PowerPoint presentations
and notes for the trainer.
Children who have made their decision to follow Jesus need to be discipled in
their spiritual journey. They need parents, Sabbath school teachers, and the
faith community to assist them in growing their faith in Jesus. Kids in Discipleship
is one of those programs that can help our children grow. It involves training
parents and teachers to disciple their children. The children's ministries director
began training at KIDS University, located at Southern Adventist University,
in March 2004. The children's Ministries Department collaborated with KIDS University
to draw up plans to develop KIDS University sites in different world divisions
by 2006. The first group of division children's ministries directors will be
trained at KIDS University in March 2006.
A Worldwide Ministry for Children
During this quinquennium the departmental director has made visits to 11 divisions,
providing mentoring, support, and professional in-service training seminars
for children's ministries directors in more than 30 countries. Besides equipping
the adults, training is given also to children to involve them in witnessing,
prayer, preaching, and outreach to the community. Children attend the Young
Preachers' Club, Children's Small Groups, Children's Congress, and other service
projects in the community.
One of the challenges we face in children's ministries is to
continue to inspire and motivate all churches to rediscover the importance of
children. Let's face it: building tomorrow's church begins with today's children!