Some of Our Convictions
◣ God is creating each person to be somebody—a person with a unique personality, with gifts and talents that are all a reflection of God.
◣ The “content” we want our children to learn is primarily personal, not propositional. We want them to get to know God and relate to God in each person who loves them.
◣ The best preparation we can make as parents or caregivers for teaching children is to spend time deepening our relationship with God ourselves and so becoming people with “content.”
◣ We want them to grow up knowing they can do all things through Christ who strengthens them. Our children will learn this as we live this. God has a mission for all of us. He calls us to “go and make disciples.” Our community, our village, has the God-given responsibility to raise up our children to be disciples of Jesus.
◣ Caring for children, especially during our Sunday meetings, is a fun, safe, extremely needed way to work out our faith with fear and trembling. The volunteers are blessed, the children are blessed, and the parents are blessed.
◣ It is an adventure getting to know the Spirit of God. Sometimes it is a journey deep into a dark forest. It is fun but mysterious, and sometimes a little scary. Learning Bible stories is like reading a travel guide. What we mostly want to train our kids for is the journey itself.
◣ Parents have the unique privilege of creating a family where grace and truth may be known. The church surrounds them with support and everyone plays a part in each child’s protection and growth.
◣ Children should not be deprived of their dignity just because they are powerless and unskilled. We want to receive what they have been given and respect their uniqueness.
Basic to Our Plan
◖We know that when we are together as a multi-generational community we all benefit and grow in faith. We value being together, youngest to oldest, during our in-between times, at “family reunion” times, and other times we celebrate together as a community. Several times a year we plan for the youngest members of our community to participate in our regular Sunday meeting times. Children are always welcome in our meetings under the care of their parents, who we trust to help them relate and care for others in the meeting.
◖Each congregation has a Children’s Team that: 1) Leads us to care for children during our Sunday meetings. 2) Helps organize childcare solutions for other events. 3) Imagines how to promote healthy parenting and nurturing of children in and out of the congregation.
◖Our cells contribute volunteers each week to help with Sunday meeting childcare.
◖We highly value the stories of our faith as told in Scripture. Each Sunday, a teacher tells a story from our faith and helps the 4-to-5-year-olds connect and interact with it in a meaningful way. There is also a regular guide for the 6-to-8-year-olds who helps them explore and connect in a cellular way.
◖We promote cell growth among children of all ages, beginning with early elementary age. Cells are the primary means Circle of Hope uses to nurture faith.
◖We use the Parents e-mail list as a means to develop community and sort out needs.
We’re All Children
One way to picture the church is as God’s family. We are made brothers and sisters with Jesus. Jesus sees something special in children. When we spend time with our children and become like them, we connect with Jesus. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me’” (Matthew 18:1-5).
It takes a family…
The writers of the Bible presume we all respect the love of family God built into us all (1 Cor. 12:13 is one of many examples). We presume that, too, and strive to help parents fulfill their crucial role in raising their children. Parents, not programs or “the church,” are the ones who will and should have the most influence on their child’s faith and health. Nothing can replace a godly, wise, connected parent.
It takes a church…
Children, often by their own faith and because of the choices of their parents, are important parts of the body, even before they profess an adult faith. They can even lead us in some ways. Mostly, they need adults to provide a safe place for them to grow. A nuclear family cannot be expected to provide a complete enough community. It takes many people to nurture a child to grow into an adult who can face the world with faith, hope, and love. We offer our church for that. More than this, many children do not have the benefit of having an intact family, or a family with faith in Jesus. For them, we hope to provide the family they are missing in many ways.
Markers along the journey
Babies are learning to trust.
Pre-school children enjoy fanciful thinking. They are drawn to the wonder, power, and mystery of God.
The school-age child becomes immersed in the community as they begin to participate in the rituals of our community.
The pre-teen child begins to question their childhood faith. We listen to and answer their questions with love and truth.