Hope’s model for Children’s Ministry is parent-centric. Scripture is clear that parents are the primary teachers and disciplers in a child’s life (Deut. 6:4-9). In addition to the teaching of Scripture, most of us have experienced the fact that to a significant degree, we have become our parents – whether we intended to or not. As parents, this truth is both encouraging and disturbing – our children are going to grow up to be a lot like us. If we are gospel-dependent, missional believers then our kids are much more likely to become develop into mature believers as well.
Therefore, Hope seeks to partner with parents in the spiritual development and training of their kids. We believe the best way to do this is through helping parents mature in their faith. In one sense, everything we do at Hope is children’s ministry. In calling and equipping parents to authentically live out of the gospel and be salt and light in the world we are providing our kids with the best possible spiritual models, teachers, and coaches.
We want to communicate the gospel of grace clearly through content and actions in everything we do. In selecting curriculum for our Children’s Ministry, we look for material that communicates a full understanding of the gospel in an age-appropriate way. While no curriculum perfectly reflects Hope’s emphasis on reformed biblical theology, the gospel of grace, and spiritual growth through faith, we constantly re-evaluate our curriculum to find the material that most closely reflects what we believe and preach.
Within our parent-centric model, the chief function of our curriculum is to provide raw material and facilitate faith-conversations between parents and their kids. By itself the best curriculum will have minimal real impact on our kids. However, even mediocre curriculum can have a significant spiritual impact when it’s used as an opportunity to have substantive conversations about faith with our kids.
Like language, much of what children learn about the faith is “caught” rather than taught. Therefore, we strive to not only “preach grace” but to “do grace” in our Children’s Ministry. We want to communicate the gospel to our children by the ways we treat them as well as by how treat each other as teachers and parents.
Integration into the Body
As much as possible, we want to integrate our children into our body to help prepare them to be mature, healthy church members. We believe that children will best learn how to enjoy and participate in worship by joining the adults in corporate worship and worshiping alongside us. We want to encourage them to become other-centered givers rather than spiritual consumers by helping them identify and employ their gifts at a young age. Being included in the life of the church alongside adults also allows them to “try on” the faith so that they can own the faith for themselves rather than merely following their parents.