I was in Chicago’s Diamond Headache Clinic for two weeks as a patient for a migraine that wouldn’t go away, a result of meningitis. I had tried everything to break the pain cycle and nothing had worked (and wouldn’t work for 5.5 years). Part of the program was to undergo/learn biofeedback where I was taught to lessen my pain by “thinking the right thoughts.” So while hooked up to a computer through leads that were attached all over my head, I could watch the tension levels of my head rise and fall. It was here that I learned the power of the Word.
I was told to relax different parts of my body, to think happy thoughts, to imagine I was in a relaxing place. Then the tech left me alone to “practice.” I tried all of the suggestions and saw on the computer graph a little lessening of my tension — but not much. Then I began quoting Scripture, Psalm 34 I believe, and the lines on the graph plummeted. I was lowering my tension and relaxing my head (though it didn’t do much for my pain) by the power of the spoken Word of God.
This is why children’s ministry exists — to lead children to a saving God who is living and active in our lives today. This is why we teach children Scripture and provide experiences to help them hide these words in their hearts and minds.
At General Conference 2019, children’s ministry leaders, pastors, directors and teachers have been given a seat at the table. Together, we will gather to discuss discipleship, evangelism and worship through the lens of children’s ministry just as other focus groups are meeting to discuss the same concepts. This is exciting because, as a tribe, we believe that kids matter in the kingdom today. We are not just preparing them to lead someday but to lead and be world-changers today. Kids are a part of the church, so their leaders and teachers should be a part of General Conference.
During these three days of breakouts, we will look at what a typical children’s ministry looks like —what is — and then imagine what could be with a little course correction. For example, what happens when we teach the Bible as a whole and not individual parts? What happens when we send kids into a prayer closet to do the work of prayer? What happens when kids are taught how to listen to the Spirit in them and then to act? What happens when we teach kids how to share their part of the Story of God with others?
During our time together, we will hear from a panel of Free Methodist children’s ministry leaders discussing these topics, view short video examples and experience creative approaches. Participants will leave with easily implemented ideas, lesson plans, connections, prayer guides and loads of encouragement. Also, a new Free Methodist Church children’s ministry foundational curriculum will be revealed for use in churches of all sizes and needs.
The church of today includes children today. Children matter to Jesus, and they matter in the kingdom — one voice, one church.
Christie Kessinger is the director of grade school ministries at the Greenville (Illinois) Free Methodist Church and the leader of the Children’s Ministries focus group at General Conference 2019 (gc19.org).0