So soon the euphoria around the Golden Jubilee Celebration of the Children’s Ministry of The Church of Pentecost is gradually dying out and the dust is settling on the five-decade journey of the Ministry, breaking a new dawn for the years ahead.
The question, however, is: What does the future hold for the church and this important ministry, which is the bedrock for the survival of such a great institution like The Church of Pentecost and Christianity as a whole? Are there lessons we can gather from our five-decade journey? What should be the responsibility of various stakeholders in the church? These and many questions come into mind as we brought the curtains down on the 50th anniversary celebration of the Children’s Ministry.
In every small seed, they say is the future of a big tree. History has it that this great oak that has seen the churning out of some crème de la crème of society and for the church started as a small seed that was planted and nurtured by the caring hands of the late Mrs Margaret Mills, wife of Pastor David Mills (the then Principal of the Pentecost Bible School in Asokwa, Kumasi) at their mission house. Hmmm…I believe, if it were today, it may have qualified to be one of our Community Children’s Clubs (CCCs). The Mills are gone to be with the Lord but their legacy still lives on.
Let me pause here and ask…how many mission houses (District and Area) do we have in the church today? Per a simple calculation, if the number of ministers in the church now is a little over 4,000, then we should have almost the same number of mission houses. Can you imagine the number of Community Children’s Clubs we could have if every ‘Osofomaame’ (Minister’s wife) like Mrs Margaret Mills, decides to establish one with the support of their husbands? Can this not make our agenda of possessing the nations quite faster? As for this, I am only thinking aloud oo.
Let us now turn the searchlight on the participation of various stakeholders – leadership, parents, children workers and our children in Children’s Ministry activities over the years, and most especially the just-ended week-long celebrations.
John C. Maxwell has said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Can you imagine that it took the leadership of the church in our 85-year checkered journey as a church, 35 solid years to accept and formalize the activities of the Children’s Ministry. The vision direction in those days might have been different, but the historical contribution of the children towards the development of the church cannot be underestimated. Is it not true that some adults then were led into the church by their children? Or were the thoughts of leadership in the early stages of the church’s development in sink with that of the Israelites in the days of Haggai who said it was not time to build God’s house (Haggai 1:1-5)?
However, the answers to the above questions may be, some attitudes of some leaders (ministers and officers) yield some credence to the fact that within this current generation, there are still leaders who do not see children as God sees them and their role in the possessing the nations’ agenda. No matter how others see children, God still sees them as his heritage, his reward and as arrows in the hand of a warrior who, when well-equipped, are expected to bring glory to their parents at the city gate (Psalm 127:3-5). Who dare see these children who are God’s standard for gaining entry into the Kingdom of God (Matthew 18:3) in another light as nuisance?
Notwithstanding the seemingly gloomy picture the attitude of some church leaders seem to paint, other leaders including our chairmen, both past and current and most especially our chairmen, Apostle Eric Nyamekye is giving prominence to the Children’s Ministry both in words and in action. Apostle Nyamekye, in one of his messages, said: “there are so many leaders who are not close to their members at all. How many pastors have thought in the Sunday School in the past year? You were not made a pastor for the adults only. You are a pastor for everyone in the District,including the Children’s Ministry. Go there and teach! If your anointing cannot teach children, then you cannot teach adults at all.”
Chairman and his Executive and some notable personalities at various levels of the churches leadership continue to show concern for the Children’s Ministry through programmes and activities and policy formulations such as incorporating children auditoriums in all new church building constructions, featuring child-centred issues in lay leadership schools, mounting of programme of studies on Early Childhood at the Pentecost University, Ministers Time with Children at various levels among others.
With all these in place, I believe leadership at various levels must buy into the vision of preparing children to take up the reins of leadership in the future. The children should not be seen as only good when it comes to singing of action songs at conventions, but as members of the church who could be used by God to declare his thoughts and precepts to this generation just as he did with the boy, Samuel (1 Samuel 3).
I look with concern over the years the attitude of most parents towards the activities and progress of their children. Have you noted the attendance of parents during Children’s Week Celebrations? The weekdays are even worst. But mind you parents, who gives his or her assets or estates to somebody to manage and never keep an eye on him? Who does that? Who sends his or her child to school without checking up on his progress or liaising with the teachers to see to the wellbeing of the children?
According to the American Federation of Teachers, “substantial evidence exists showing that parent involvement benefits students, including raising their academic achievement. There are other advantages for children when parents become involved — namely increased motivation for learning, improved behavior, more regular attendance, and a more positive attitude about homework and school in general.”
Can we therefore ask ourselves the psychological implication and the long term effect of parents non-involvement and seemingly lack of interest in Children’s Ministry activities on our children?
Some teachers handling the children today themselves have no positive self-image of themselves in their work as children’s workers. Much of this less self-esteem and low confidence are due to lack of required trainings which qualifies one to handle children and sometimes how the church looks at them as people who do not matter and that they have been placed in this department just to take care of the children and prevent them from ‘making noise’. So, most teachers who do not understand this call at best are behaving like hired hands who do close to nothing in feeding, guarding and guiding these lambs (John 10:11 – 14), who are part of the flock the Lord Jesus bought with his own blood (Acts 20:28).
In the next few years, can we have teachers like Jehoaida who will teach the Joashes (children) to do the right thing (2Chronicles 24:2)? Can we have shepherds (teachers) like David who will feed and lead the flock with the integrity of heart and skillfulness of their hands (Psalm 78:72)?
All these will be possible if we recruit people who have a call to do ministry among children, train them and motivate them to give of their best in moulding the children God’s way.
So what do we do going forward into the unknown but certain future? Let us continue to push for an “all hands and hearts on deck” agenda, which will encourage all from the pulpit to the pews to get involved in Children’s Ministry activities.
- Can we have a special day all across the nations earmarked for recognizing our hardworking teachers?
- Can we have a well structured curriculum for the Children’s Ministry with clearly spelt out standards for recruiting teachers for the ministry?
- Can we start drawing monthly speakers plan for the ministry like that which is painstakingly drawn by Pastors for the adult membership? Such a plan will pull both ministers and their spouses, officers and other mature members into together to intentionally help to groom the children.
- Would parents start taking a second look at their attitudes toward the children and the Ministry?
- Could we have Children’s Ministry Sundays every quarter during the Monthly intergenerational services of the church for them to showcase what they have, aside what is done annually during Children’s Ministry Weeks?
- Can the church at all levels incorporate the needs of the ministry into their financial budgets as a matter of policy?
In conclusion, as the church and leadership of the Children’s Ministry pursue various plans and activities in making the ministry vibrant, a lot more still needs to be done to ensure the security and future of the church of God. The Scriptures says “a good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22). What legacies will the church leave for the coming generation in the next 50years? Selah!
Written by Pastor Samuel Avornyo (Children’s Ministry Leader, Assin Foso Area).