A Lasting Vision for Family Ministry
"All too many pastors and church leaders hand off children, youth & family ministry to a staff member, and then stop thinking about it," Pastor Danielle said one summer day in her office. "I'm not that pastor."
Pastor Danielle claims children and youth ministry as one of her passions and strengths. With a senior pastor invested in family ministry, we look forward to an exciting new vision that's built to last.
It's clear at Advent that we deeply value including families and children. Take one look down the aisle during the offering on any given Sunday and you'll see our 5-year-old ushers participating in the service. While some churches keep children separated from worship, we invite families into worship enthusiastically. We embrace all the things that come with that togetherness, the patter of toys and voices, and yes, the occasional crying baby or runaway toddler during the sermon. We embrace this because making parents and their children feel completely welcome in worship is a living expression of the gospel being preached.
Pastor Danielle sees new opportunities to engage toddlers, children, and youth (and adults, for that matter). Children are always playing alongside worship. What if they had more ways to understand and engage in what happens in worship? Adults who linger in the sanctuary after 9am worship enjoy hearing the opening music of Sunday School. What would it look like to have intergenerational Sunday School, where toddlers and adults learn together?
It was May 14, Pastor Danielle's first Sunday with us as our new senior pastor, and it was time for her sermon. On her way to the pulpit, she took a seat on the steps. "I'd like to invite our young disciples up to the front of the sanctuary," she said. Beginning that day, a children's message before the sermon has become a regular part of worship.
One morning in July, Pastor Danielle could be found sitting on the floor of the sanctuary, assembling kid-sized round tables. They now live in what used to be called our "children's area" along the right wall of the sanctuary. Instead of facing the wall to do their activities during worship, children can now face toward the rest of their faith community in worship. Pastor Danielle calls the remodeled area the "The Praygound" (get it?). With a name that catchy, soon we all will be using it.
Later, on a Sunday she wasn't preaching or presiding, Pastor Danielle joined the kids in the redesigned Prayground during worship. She wanted to explore ways to help children be more involved in the worship experience. During the Prayers of the People -- when we pray as a community for just about everything under the sun (or, at least, as much as we can) -- Pastor Danielle asked the children what they'd like to pray for. They put crayon to paper and covered two sides.
ADD PICS OF PRAYERS
Pastor Danielle believes good children, youth, and family ministry is good ministry, plain and simple. This has two meanings. First, providing meaningful ways for children and youth to engage in the church is important. And second, the practices of great children and youth ministry are usually also fantastic ways of engaging adults in deepening their faith.
She has spent the summer thinking deeply about Sunday School, and about children, youth, and family ministry as a whole. Now, get ready for a Sunday school that digs deeper into stories and faith. Get ready for a Sunday School that equips parents to teach faith at home. Get ready for Sunday School that serves the world. Get ready for Sunday School that might include you (even if you're an adult, or you've never volunteered before).
Our first major program coming up for families is also for everyone. It called a Celebration Sunday and our theme is “Light the Fire.” Join us for special worship and intergenerational activities on September 17th. Young, old, members, friends, visitors -- It's going to be fun for everyone, so put it on your calendar! Learn more on the event page.
Then, Sunday School will continue every Sunday from 10:05 a.m. to 10:55 a.m. Learn more about this year's Sunday School program on our Sunday School page.