While parents are doing their part in nurturing the faith of their children at home, the church has set up children’s ministries to provide additional opportunities for building the faith of our little ones. Children’s ministries throughout our divisions, unions, and conferences around the world have created many outstanding programs to nurture children’s faith. They are creative, interactive, and appealing to children and teens. While there are many that I have participated in, the following ones stood out as some of the most effective and fun to do. Perhaps you can try these ideas out yourselves!
Children’s Prayer Camps/Conference
The Korean Union Conference has been running these prayer camps annually. Children from all over the union enjoy two and a half days of fellowship together. They participate in prayer activities, individual prayers, prayer walks, and prayer seminars. Children come away strengthened by a deeper experience with Jesus through prayer, and a better understanding of prayer. One conference director remarked, “It’s so exciting and satisfying to see children learn to talk to Jesus so passionately.”
The North Philippine Union Conference organized its first union-wide prayer conference for 500 children in 2015. “We didn’t expect so many children, but they kept coming. Nothing gives me greater joy than to see children take time to pray personally to God,” says Norlin Cadapan, children’s ministries director. Children learn prayer journaling as well as how to be
involved in various types of prayer activities, such as ACTS
(adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication), popcorn prayer, prayer walks, etc.
Children’s Health EXPO
This is the one of the most exciting events for children within the church as well as for outreach to community children. Health EXPOs are held in many unions in Kazakhstan, Russia, Indonesia, Europe, South America, the United States, and several other countries. They can be held in shopping malls, schools, or churches. Children come for a one-day event, during which they participate in learning about healthful living. They are involved in lots of activities in each of the eight stations that teach them about nutrition, exercise, water, sunshine, temperance, air, rest, and trust in God, which forms the NEWSTART program. One little girl from the Kazakhstan health EXPO said to me, “I love this! I not only get to eat, but I learn many things. I want to tell my mama about this.”
Ellen White Camps/Programs
Children love camps, and this type of camp provides them with fun, fellowship, and opportunities to learn about the foundations of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Southern Asia-Pacific Division Children’s Ministries uses the Pathway of the Pioneers CDs and Michael Asks Why (an adaptation of The Great Controversy for children).
The South American Division Children’s Ministries Department has developed a program called Yo conozco mi historia (Spanish) and Eu Conheço a Minha História (Portuguese), which helps children “know their story” about Ellen G. White and the Adventist pioneers. “We used this two years ago, and we include these stories during the worship hour each Sabbath,” said Graciela Hein, division children’s ministries director. “It has been a blessing!”
Young Preachers’ Clubs/Festival
Children who have the gift of preaching enjoy this event. They gather for two or three days of training as they learn how to preach. The South Philippine Union Conference, under the leadership of Edgar Inglis, runs The Little Trumpets child preachers clubs two or three times a year in different conferences or missions. Children come together to learn how to craft a simple sermon, how to deliver sermons effectively, and how to conduct Bible studies. When I asked Edgar why he wants to run these clubs, he smiled broadly: “I just love to preach! I was a child preacher at the age of 5, and I want to inspire other kids to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ!”
The Indian Ocean Union organized a child preacher’s festival to celebrate 600 child preachers who conducted evangelistic meetings at their church for one week. This festival was held on Sabbath and was officiated by children. There were also children’s choirs and interesting dramas. Child preachers’ clubs are also found in the South American and Inter-American divisions. Tomorrow’s preachers are today’s children!
Children’s Music Festival/Camp
Children are given opportunities to use their musical gifts and talents. Children gather for a day or two of a musical extravaganza that includes demonstrations of musical instruments, mimes, choral works, etc. This is followed by musical performances by the children. Community kids are also invited to join the festival.
The Croatian Conference Children’s Ministries Departments has been running a summer music festival for a couple years now. It opens great opportunities for them to get acquainted with parents and other community people not in the church. Many have been introduced to Jesus.
Connecting children to God should be our priority. But today’s parents consistently battle issues of having no time. It’s indeed hard to find the time, but we can always make time for the important task of connecting our children with the God who loves them unconditionally. Let the home and the church be intentional in teaching our children to love and adore Him. We can help them understand biblical truths as expressed in the fundamental beliefs of our church, and use creative ways to build their relationship with Jesus.
Nothing is more thrilling than seeing our children accept their Savior and grow in their faith!