Whether you have inherited an existing children’s ministry or are working from the ground up, it’s vital to set the CORE of your ministry. These are the essential components that are (humanly speaking) unmovable and unchangeable–the backbone of your entire ministry to children. And, just like your own body’s “core,” your ongoing task is to strengthen these elements on a routine basis. So let’s think through this next step in Children’s Ministry 101.
Lesson Four: Set the CORE
Your CORE will most often be partially determined by the rest of your church’s ministries. What are your weekly worship services? Do you have a Sunday School hour? Do you have a Sunday evening service, or midweek ministries? Is your church’s mission more focused on small group discipleship or on large group events? What facilities are available to you? The answer to these and other related questions will have a direct impact on your CORE.
Before we go any further, here’s an easy way to remember what a ministry CORE is all about.
- C – Consistent: Children need the important things in their lives to be unchanging.
- O – Organized: These things do not just happen randomly–they must be planned.
- R – Regular: Pedagogy is all about repetition and routine.
- E – Essentials: These are the basics that lead to future growth.
Now I know that these concepts don’t sound very “fresh,” “exciting,” or “cutting edge” to many people. But please don’t mistake them for being dull, traditional, routine, or boring! I would submit to you that our children need consistency and routine more than ever. They are growing up in a world that is absolutely out-of-control in its pace, addicted to everything “new,” and driven to the worst extremes. It’s no wonder why more and more of our children lack attention spans, can’t seem to sit still, and are often prone to childhood anxiety. Their hearts are restless, longing for stability, consistency, and depth (and Jesus!). The Church of Jesus Christ must stand out like a trustworthy, refreshing oasis in a random, entertainment-driven desert.
Therefore, set the CORE of your ministry and be committed to it. Not just for the sake of tradition or routine, but because you know how the Holy Spirit works in gospel-centered ministry that is well-ordered and faithful. And, as I said in the introduction, you will then seek to strengthen your CORE each passing week, month, and year.
Your CORE is the set of activities, programs, and essential components that fulfills your mission as you interact with your children and families every Lord’s Day–and each and every week–throughout the year. This CORE may have just one or two elements, or a few more than that. Too many pieces will be cumbersome, and not allow you to be flexible and spontaneous with your other, less-than-core events. As an example, here’s the CORE of our children’s ministry components (yes I like to put things in terms that I can remember):
- Christian Education. In our context, this is the traditional Sunday morning Sunday School hour where we teach all of God’s Word to our children. It is the most regular element of our CORE, happening 52 Sundays a year, to maximize our education/discipleship efforts.
- Catechism. We have churchwide Wednesday night ministries, 12 weeks in the fall and 12 weeks in the spring. So, this is a great opportunity to catechize our children, growing their knowledge of Biblical theology.
- Children’s Choirs. Since we have still have evening worship on Sundays, we can use this time to keep children in worship for a portion of the service, then provide children’s choirs for the remainder of the time. Our children are trained to be worshipers of God, using their musical gifts and talents.
- Covenant Parent Ministry. Our older elementary children need to grow in their relationships with one another before they enter the youth ministry. So, every other month, events hosted by their parents are provided for Christian fellowship and team-building.
Hopefully, this example helps you get an idea of what a CORE looks like. In future lessons, we will go over each one of these sorts of CORE elements (and others) more thoroughly. Also, it should be noted that part of your regular CORE may also include events that occur just once a year (like Vacation Bible School, in our case).
Tied to your mission, your CORE will communicate to your children. families, and entire congregation what you are all about. Its elements provide the pathways for the Spirit and the Word to draw children to Christ, change their hearts, and grow them up in faith, hope, and love, Then, it’s time to build your team and your laborers for the harvest field! More on that in our next two lessons…