Table of Contents
As we engage children, we realize that they are not a group distinct from the corporate body of the church, simply a specific part of it. For this reason, the mission for Seed Kids is identical to the stated mission of Seed Church:
The mission of Seed Church is to make disciples who embrace, embody and expose the Gospel.
Because we are dealing with kids, our specific mission must reflect how to accomplish this in the lives of young hearts. Our mission builds on the larger mission of Seed Church:
We proclaim the gospel to young hearts and confidently send them into the world to live like Jesus.
To be on mission, our children must be equipped. We aim to equip them, not just protect them, so they are prepared to stand firm, both now and when they leave father and mother.
We do this in a safe, inviting environment where kids can interact with Gospel Truth, within the context of Gospel Community, being brought up to reflect Gospel Living.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Theology of Children
While it may seem unnecessary to develop a theology of children, it is of utmost importance that we come to a few conclusions about who children are before we can ever hope to cultivate them in the Word.
1. Children are created by God
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139.13-14
This is a no brainer; yet the simple belief that children are created by God brings with it several implications to how we view children.
A. Children are created as worshippers (1 Cor. 10.31)
We all agree that adults are religious beings, but children are too! Every toy he covets, every princess she idolizes, they are worshipping. God then must be continually reinforced as the creator of all things and the source of all joy.
B. Children are created as creatures (Gen. 2.7)
Though they often act like it, the world does not revolve around a child. As a created being, children must answer to the Creator. They must be taught that their finite perspective is not the source of Truth.
C. Children are created unique (Rom. 12.4-5)
God instilled in every little one a special set of gifts and talents. Though they may not know what these are, they must understand that our differences reveal the creativity of our Creator. They are not to be used as a source of pride or self-deprecation.
D. Children are image-bearers (Gen. 1.27)
Children bear the image of God. They are rational, creative, loving beings that are to be trained in what their lives are for: The worship of God!
2. Children are sinners
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3.23
It is easy to get caught in the trap of believing that children are innocent and thus free from God’s judgment. The Bible teaches us that we ALL have a sinful nature and desire ourselves before God. Realizing that children are sinners gives us the urgency to teach them the gospel, not wait until they are of an accountable age.
3. Children can become adopted children of God
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8.15-17
Salvation is not something reserved for adults. Children can recognize their sin and turn to Jesus. The Holy Spirit is at work in the hearts of children as well as adults.
4. Children understand truth differently than adults
“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
Not only do kids receive the truth differently than their parents, you might say they receive it better. When Jesus is directing His disciples on belief, He encourages them to have faith like a child. Children are not as skeptical as adults; they do not come to the Bible with the callous of personal experience. This is why the training of children is so important. It is laying the foundation for a worldview, so children can read their experiences through their theology, not vice versa.
5. Children learn from their parents
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
It is nice to drop your kids off, and receive a message to feed your soul, while they get a message for theirs. However, the learning doesn’t stop there, in fact, for the benefit of your child’s developing faith it can’t! Kids learn through the constant repetition of having God pointed out to them daily. Children must be constantly reminded, disciplined, and nurtured in the Word so that when the trials come, they will be able to stand firm.
In a Barna Research Poll, titled, ”Teens and adults have little chance of accepting Christ as their savior,” it was found that 80% of those who consider themselves evangelical Christians were ‘converted’ before the age of 12. This age seems to be, not a point of no return, but certainly a milepost that must be considered when structuring a vision for the education of children. Proverbs 22:6 speaks to this idea; a child who is nurtured in the Word, will experience the world through the lens of the gospel, that is, a Christian worldview. A child who does not have this foundation will most often revert to navigating and interpreting the world through the fleeting nature of culture itself and the limitations of personal experience. For this reason, the building of a strong gospel worldview is the driving force behind everything that we do in our Seed Kids ministry.
Our vision at Seed Church is to organize our children’s ministry around the concept of establishing a strong gospel foundation by the age of 11. This will be done through: teaching children on Sundays, equipping parents to pastor their homes, and actively incorporating children into the church body.
In order to accomplish this goal, we must set mileposts. These are points that we can establish that help us measure the effectiveness of our mission and guide our decision making as we move forward always reforming. Our mile markers will be broken down by ages, and our vision will be evaluated by where the kids are as they move from one age group to the next.
The role of infant nursery is one of service. We create a safe, inviting environment for newborns to 18 months, where parents feel comfortable to leave their child so that they can experience the church service without their attention being divided. Infant nursery also acts as a place where younger volunteers can learn about taking care of a baby under the guidance of a seasoned mother and/or father.
From 18 months to 3 years old children are in the beginning stages of communication and information processing. Their time in Seed Kids should address these developing skills by engaging them with Bible stories and music. They should begin learning how to interact with other children in a Christ-like manner receive instruction in a heart-centric way.
The 3-5 year olds are able to begin understanding the conceptual nature of the Bible, specifically the story arch of Scripture that culminates at the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This age group will focus on Biblical narrative, and how it relates to them.
Kindergartners and 1st graders, these children ask a lot of questions (not that they don’t before this). Many of these questions are built out of the simple understanding that they have. They are hungry for a more complex truth; one that goes beyond simple connect-the-dots story telling. They are ready to begin confronting the doctrines of God in a place where they can ask questions. They are ready for their head knowledge to become heart knowledge.
In the preteen years, children become more independent and begin to be skeptical about what their parents tell them. Their experiences (and emotions) begin to have more weight in their decision making and beliefs. This is a time when they need to be engaged and spoken to like an adult. They need to be given heavy concepts to chew on and they need to be encouraged to ask questions. They will not accept truth unless they can personalize it, which takes a great deal of conversation, and the Holy Spirit.
We want to be teaching the children in accordance with the parents, not replacing them. The church seeks to give kids biblical instruction, but the bulk of responsibility falls on the parents. Equipping parents to do this job is one of our goals. We will do this in a number of ways, including:
– providing take home sheets for the kids
– giving quarterly newsletters on the children’s ministry as well as teaching on Gospel parenting
– putting on Saturday seminars for parents, etc.
We believe that children can handle deep biblical truth at a young age. Because our culture has fallen victim to sensory overload, we mistakenly assume that our ministries must compete and be largely attractional in nature. While we believe in having dynamic ministries that engage kids, we want to win our kids to the gospel and not develop mini-consumers in the image of today’s adults. Therefore, we believe that the Bible must be taught in depth, yet in a child-friendly, age-appropriate, and engaging manner. Beginning with the gospel, we desire to fill them with solid Bible truth that will give them a foundation to fall back on when they go through difficult times. For our older ages we feel it important to connect their lesson with what the parents are hearing. For our younger ages, our intention is to develop their biblical literacy in the stories of the Bible and how they all relate to the person and work of Jesus.
We believe children are full participants in the one church. We believe that the church is a body of believers and those children are part of the one body. We believe that by the age of 9 (or younger depending on the child), children can benefit from and should participate in the gathering as a church. We believe that they benefit from seeing the body (and their parents) worship together, hearing the proclamation of God’s Word, participating in corporate prayer, and from the taking of communion even if they only observe. We believe the experience of seeing other believers, especially their parents, participate in communion will in fact provide more teachable moments. However, we also believe that in order to be Missional, we cannot hold our children to lofty ideals of spiritual maturity. For this reason, we provide Seed Kids for children through age 11. We will continue to encourage parents that this is provided as a service, not as a goal.
We believe that parents are responsible for the spiritual training of their young and older children. We believe that before God, parents, not churches have the primary responsibility for the spiritual nurture of their children. We believe in partnering with, not replacing, parents in nurturing the faith of children so that, by God’s grace, they will be well equipped to spread a passion for the supremacy of God to the next generation. For that reason, we strongly encourage parental involvement in the classroom and, when applicable, make use of meaningful take-home materials for every lesson to encourage and enable parents to interact with their children over Scripture and the lesson content. There are many for whom Sunday morning is simply a break from the busyness of the week. In response, many churches develop attractive children’s ministries that are little more than glorified daycare centers.
Nevertheless, many parents assume these ministries will teach their children everything they need to know biblically, thereby abdicating their own responsibility. Our goal is to instruct the students that we might assist, support, and complement what parents should already be doing in the home.
We believe that the Sunday morning gathering should serve as an extension of a rich Christ-centered home environment, not a substitute. We believe that the minimal amount of time on Sunday mornings cannot be the sole means of a child receiving biblical truth. If we only read the Bible when it’s on the screen, or “worship” God for 20 minutes on Sunday morning, we lose sight of how God calls us to live. When believers begin to understand what it means to have a gospel-centered life versus a church-centered life, our perspective changes. What we do on Sunday morning becomes less important than what we do in our daily lives. We hope that, even at a young age, our children see how faith extends beyond a one-day-a-week experience through the example of their parents.
We believe that having fully separate ministries on Sunday morning may fracture the desired unity we hope to see in the church family. We believe that Sunday morning is our time to gather as a body. Having fully separate ministries for older children and youth can isolate them from participation in the corporate experience. Separation of families, specifically children from adults, creates an unnatural barrier and unbiblical distinction. As much as we would hope the children graduate from “little church” to “Big church,” it typically does not occur if the adolescent ministries compete with our Sunday morning gathering. Any number of studies will show that young people who do not genuinely connect with the church itself, as opposed to a ministry within the church only, will often transition completely out of the church because they failed to ever connect with it. Therefore, children and youth ministries, after their class time during the sermon, will rejoin their parents and the entire body of the church for worship, prayer, and the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. This is very intentional at Seed Church and emphasizes that we are indeed one body in worship, prayer, and communion.
We have attempted to break the classes down into age groups that learn similarly and can interact socially. The breakdowns are:
- Nursery: Infants-18 months
- Toddlers: 18 months- 3 years olds
- Age 3-5: Kids will move up as soon as they turn 3 or seem ready to move into a classroom setting
- Kindergarten-Grade 1
- Grades 2-4
- Grades 5-6
We also ask that you prayerfully consider whether or not your kids should be in Seed Kids. We believe that moving kids into the church service is beneficial to them, as they witness their parents in worship and share in the assembly of believers. You will see parents in our church who have their kids in service as young as 5, listening to the proclamation of the Word and worshiping God in song. When the kids take this step will be the responsibility of the parent, but understand that just because we have a class does not mean that you kids have to be in it, necessarily.
Each class has their own schedule, but every class will spend some time worshiping God in song, reading His Word (slightly paraphrased for the youngest classes), and doing a craft to reinforce the lesson. The older classes will additionally spend time memorizing Scripture and reviewing the lesson from the previous week.
The Seed Kids curriculum rotates from Firm Foundation, What’s in the Bible, and TRU, as well as other high quality curriculum options. All of the curriculum is reviewed and approved by Seed Church elders and instituted by our Children’s Ministry Director.