Philosophy of Children Ministry
I conceive of the philosophy of children’s ministry as synonymous with a jigsaw picture. Each piece the jigsaw represents an element of my worldview, the local church’s resources and God’s vision as presented in my heart. Joining all these pieces together provides the picture of the local church’s children’s ministry. Philosophy of children’s ministry directs the local ministry. There is need to make a decision concerning the direction that the Lord is leading the ministry even with limited resources.
There are instances in which several ideas are within our grasp. However, only one idea can integrate into the local church’s philosophy of children ministry. In this regard, philosophy gives me a grid to assess ideas. One of the major pieces of my philosophy of children’s ministry is the Doctrine of Authority. I recognize that there is need to integrate the pieces from a reformed perspective. Since the ministry is a reflection of our theology, it is important to adopt a theological perspective.
For instance, there is a high likelihood of us having a distorted picture if we begin with the piece of inferior view of the Scripture. According to Marc Anthony (2001), the first and the most basic piece, the basis of authority, is the Holy Scripture. The foundation upon which all thinking lies is the Word of God. An elevated view of the Scripture is the ultimate frame of reference for any Christian educator. An elevated view is one that corresponds with the Christ’s conception of the Bible.
In Mathew 5:18, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the last stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. ” He further states in John 10:35 that “the Scripture cannot be broken”. In this regard, the basis of authority is the Word of God. Even though nature and the entire creation are a testimony to the goodness, wisdom and power of God, they are not sufficient to provide adequate knowledge of God and His will which is necessary for mankind to be saved.
The will of God and the instructions necessary for the salvation of man is either expressed in the Bible or the good and necessary consequences may be derived from it. The Old and the New Testament as it was originally presented to be the inerrant Word of God, is the basis of authority. Another important piece of this philosophy is the identification of who the children are. In this regard, I turn to the revelation of God in the book of Genesis 1-3 in which the story of the creation of humankind is presented and the doctrine of God’s image is drawn.
From God’s image, various characteristics of children that impact on our relationship with them are seen. Among these is the view that we act in the world in such a manner at to make the things around us sensible, to make correction and to realize ordered relationship so as to have dominion effectively (Pullen, n. d). Humans also seek to perceive and comprehend the world rationally. It is within this world that we form and make things and ideas. Further, human action is such that it corresponds with the standards of right and wrong which invariable lead to justice or injustice.
Even though human beings are a reflection of the image of God, this is not done perfectly since this reflection is dotted with sin. We also make judgments in correspondence with our purposes, acting within the confines of our nature. We are also created in such a way as to live in relationship with ourselves, others, the creation and God. Out of God’s love for us, we should extend justice and mercy to others. We are designed to live in dependence upon God for our existence, upon one another and upon creation.
The fact that every human individual is created in the image of God is the key to understanding children. However, the impacts of man’s fall tarnished that image. As the child matures, these features become more completely developed. An instance of this is Christ himself who was born as a human. When I read in the scriptures that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with man and God, I acknowledge the meaning of this. With regard to children’s ministry, my perspectives on the goals and purposes are focused on the Bible stories.
Christian education as defined by Graham is “the deliberate, systematic and sustained divine and human effort to share or appropriate the knowledge, values, attitudes, skills, sensitivities, and behaviors that comprise or are consistent with the Christian faith. ” Such an education promotes “the change, renewal, and reformation of persons, groups, and structures by the power of the Holy Spirit to conform to the revealed will of God as expressed in the Old and New Testament and preeminently in the person of Jesus Christ, as well as any outcomes of that effort” (Graham, 2000).
The implication is that the whole child is being trained. From this perspective, a general purpose of the local church begins to be developed. As one emerges into this region of solidly establishing the children’s ministry based on the doctrine of authority and knowing the children, there is need to recognize that the local church’s children ministry serves as support and standalone ministry, which are very different things. Support ministry in this sense implies that the children’s ministry is summoned to offer support to other church’s ministries through childcare.
On the other hand, the children’s ministry is also a standalone ministry in the sense that children belong to the covenantal community and are capable of taking part in church’s life. In developing a general purpose of the local church’s children ministry, there is need to revert back to the fundamental principles of covenantal theology. Reformed theology has various components which I believe are important in considering education. These include the Glory of God, Sovereignty of God, Redemptive-historical Perspective, a focus on God, and being Christ centered.
In my opinion, Christian education should be focused on glorifying God by making it possible for people with the necessary tools to see the entire life from the perspective of how we relate with God through Christ, and behave in accordance with the rules of our relationship with Him (Curry, 2002). This perspective recognizes that ultimately all our actions are an attempt to glorify God. Glorifying God does not imply that we can glorify Him as humans; rather, we show His glory through bringing to our attention to everything that he has done.
The perspective also acknowledges that our most fundamental relationship is with God. This can only be restored through Jesus. This dimension recognizes the climax of the covenant in establishing a proper orientation in one’s heart. The perspective also asserts that from this proper relation with God emanates other fundamental human relationships. Our relationship with God is the first relationship. In all redemptive activity, Christ’s atoning activity must be initiated and applied by God.
It is sin that separated us from God. Yet, there is a promise that God will take us as His people. One passes through the sanctification process through this deepening relationship with God. The second relationship is the knowledge of self which is applicable when one enters assumes the responsibility of a teacher. One should ask himself/herself what the role demands. According to Norman Harper, the most important thing that any teacher can bring into the teaching arena is their own dignified personality (in Pullen, n.
d). This implies that there will be a major impact on the education process via a restored relationship with God through Christ. My character should mirror the image of God, recognize my imperfection, giftedness, justice, mercy and a humble walk with God. Character should be guided by these traits. The third kind of relationship is how one relates with others. How does one understand the nature of others? In the covenant, humans were created in the image of God. This is the benchmark of seeing other people and me.
Part of my role is to help other people redeem the image that has been jeopardized by sin so that they have at their disposal the necessary tools for dominion that mirrors the character and activity of God. The redeeming activity is progressive. The fourth relation is my relation with the rest of creation. A major concern is the realm of knowledge that one should be acquainted with. There are various passages in the Scriptures that appear to suggest that the entire creation is open to human investigation in order that we may have dominion in a way that is glorifying to God.
Christ’s reconciliation also effects this fourth relationship. Whatever is intended to be accomplished depends on the vision of the local church. A question that one may begin by asking is the reason why God placed the church where it is. This requires much prayer and collaboration with other members who have a heart for children. As one prays and reflect on the greatest needs in the congregation and the gifts that have been provided by God, the vision is likely to take form.
In my context, the vision is to see the gospel classify our relationships as a church family, and oblige us to communicate and show the love of Christ to those who do not know him. References Antony, M. J. (2001). Introducing Christian education: foundations for the twenty-first century. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic. Curry, A. (2002). Covenant Education. In PCA Children’s Ministry Conference. Atlanta, GA. Graham, D. (2000). Teaching Redemptively. Lookout Mountain, GA: covenant College. Pullen, B. (n. d). Philosophy of Children’s Ministry. Retrieved from http://www. kirkofthehills. org/Sample Essay of PapersOwl.com