Happenings

Children in ministry

Aug 2014    
Cambodian children responding to a mission team from Bedok Methodist Church this year that also consisted of children.

“Seeing children equipped, discipled and released to serve God has been such an exciting journey for me. It’s an honour to be part of what God is doing in and through the children! Children are disciples in training, not disciples in waiting.”

Must children grow up before they can serve, or can they minister to others while they are still children?

Dr Cheah Fung Fong, Chairman of the Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) Board of Children’s Ministry (BOCM), has good reason to believe that they can. She says: “Stories abound today of how God is using children who are ministering to their peers, to their families, and to the nations.”

Increasingly, children have been involved in missions, worship and prayer. They are not just “receiving” ministry, but are in fact co-ministering with adults: Sharing the gospel to their peers on mission trips; writing their own songs, being involved in creative arts e.g. tambourine or dance ministries, serving in worship bands; and interceding intentionally at children’s prayer groups, prayer meetings and prayer walks.

Children from Fairfield Methodist Church visited Phnom Penh, Cambodia, every year for six years to run a Vacation Bible School at the Methodist School there. They made a unique impact through leading games, conducting worship, sharing Bible lessons and even preaching the Gospel.

Their Christian peers in Cambodia observed all this first-hand, and were so inspired that, in the fifth year, these youth organised their own mission trips to share God’s Word and the Gospel with the children and youth in rural villages!

Children in ministry are not just a recent “fad”, nor are children restricted to ministering only to their peers. Dr Cheah notes: “In the Bible, God used children for kingdom purposes, even while they were young. Little Samuel was a child serving God in the temple when God spoke to him. King Josiah was eight when he turned the nation of Israel back to worshipping God rather than idols. Namaan’s slave girl, though a child, was able to tell her mistress of the true God of Israel who could heal her master from his leprosy.

“God has also used children throughout history. D. L. Moody’s evangelistic campaigns included children who interceded in prayer for him as he held his rallies. The modern Bible Society movement in more than 200 countries and territories was inspired by a 10-year-old girl who was determined to own her own Bible.”

In fact, 19 years ago, Dr Cheah’s call from the Lord to serve in Children’s Ministry (CM) was confirmed by a 10-year-old boy who prayed for her at a week-long CM training in Alor Setar, Malaysia. “He came and prayed for me, praying exactly the same things that the Lord had laid on my heart. It is this clear call that has sustained me through all these years.

“Seeing children equipped, discipled and released to serve God has been such an exciting journey for me. It’s an honour to be part of what God is doing in and through the children! Children are disciples in training, not disciples in waiting.”

But who will train these disciples? A study has shown that in a year, a child of primary school age spends 1,260 hrs (22 per cent) at school, and
a whopping 3,000 hrs (52 per cent) at home. A meagre 40 hrs or 0.7 per cent is spent at church. Parents have a wonderful opportunity and a crucial mandate to teach, train, equip, coach and model for our children what it means to love God and to live our lives for Him.

Says Dr Cheah: “It is so important to guide and train our children, while they are young, to choose Jesus as the anchor in their lives. He alone can guide them through the challenges of life, which increasingly complicated in the post-modern times that they are growing up in. Proverbs 22:6 is a command as well as a promise: ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.’ (NKJV)”

Fear not, parents, for help is at hand. The TRAC BOCM has opened up their yearly equipping conference to parents of children and pre-teens. Last year, they held the Family Matters Conference; this month, the Family Still Matters Conference (see box) will have a strong focus on the role of parents in bringing up their children. It will also address trends and issues in CM.

The TRAC BOCM has shared resources amongst TRAC churches, including group subscriptions to CM websites and distributed books or music CDs. A yearly CM network meeting is usually held in February or March for CM teachers, where best practices in CM work are shared.

CM has also grown in other areas; some churches have started pre-teen ministry, ministry to children with special needs, and creative outreach programmes to children in the community.

Children from Christ Methodist Church leading the congregation in musical worship, at the Global Day of Prayer session held at Bedok Methodist Church in 2012.

How can we support the crucial work of Children’s Ministry in our churches?
* Pray for parents in their role of bringing up children in the ways of the Lord. Be supportive of them, come alongside them to encourage them and help them in this journey.

* Accept the children as members of the church of today. As a church, give the children opportunity to join in with the life of the church body – in services, in celebrations, and teaching and re-modelling the sacraments that Jesus instituted for the Church to follow.

* Give priority to next-generation ministries in the Church. Invest in Children and Youth workers who can intentionally mentor children and youth.

* Join in and serve in CM to reach out to children, disciple them, and release them to serve God in their generation.

Family Still Matters Conference • August 23, 2014 (Saturday)
Bedok Methodist Church
Register before August 11, 2014 (Monday)
www.bible.org.sg/family

Methodist Message
Assistant Editor, Grace Toh, interviewed Dr Cheah Fung Fong to better understand the role of children in ministry. Dr Cheah is Chairman of the Trinity Annual Conference Board of Children’s Ministry and is a member of Fairfield 
Methodist Church. Her three children are now young adults.

Photos courtesy of the Trinity Annual Conference Board of Children’s Ministry

Grace Toh is the Assistant Editor of Methodist Message and has been a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church for most of her life.

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