Children's Leaders

TEACHING CHILDREN TO SHARE JESUS IN A POSTMODERN WORLD

“Then the 11 disciples went to Galilee. They went to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him. But some still had their doubts. Then Jesus came to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end’” (Matthew 28:16–20).

The Great Commission. As Christians, this is what we are commanded to do—share the truth of God with the world. But this is not always easy to do in today’s postmodern society, especially for children.

From the friends they interact with at school to the messages constantly bombarding them through various modes of entertainment (TV, movies, radio, social media), children are extremely vulnerable to the postmodern belief that “anything goes.” After all, today’s children are postmoderns living in a post-Christian world. This is all they have ever known.

Ringing in the New Year

This is not your typical New Year. There is no party in Times Square, no big glittery ball dropping at midnight, and tomorrow’s date will be in the same year as today’s date. However, for the church members who work with children’s missions groups, a new year is just beginning!

This fall, we will be introducing our new theme, Mission: My Life. And, we have a few tips to make sure that this year is a success.

Plan a party. What better way to kick off a new year in children’s missions than by having a party? Invite the children in your church, the children in your neighborhood, and all of their friends. Whether it’s a movie night, a sleepover or lock-in, or dinner and games, a kickoff party gets everyone ready to begin a new year of missions.

My Time at WMU

As a rising college senior, I chose to spend over half of my summer at a full-time, 36-hour-per-week, unpaid internship at WMU. And, I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

No, it’s not quite “the real world,” but it is pretty close. My internship allowed me to test out the career field that I’m interested in for my future. It showed me what a full-time, year-round job on the Children’s Resource Team at WMU would look like. It gave me a glance at not just a career with WMU, but also at any company with publishing or editing aspects.

The scope of the work I was able to do was incredible. I did everything from writing blogs, to copyediting, to designing graphics and page layouts. I was also given the opportunity to begin developing a brand new product.

Individual Achievement — So What?

So, you’ve got the magazines, the leader guides, a cabinet full of supplies, and a room full of children eager to learn about missions. The Scriptures, Bible lessons, and missionary stories taught during your children’s missions group is invaluable. Not only do children learn about our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His sacrifice on the cross for us, but they also learn the importance of sharing that news with others.

But did you know there is more you can do? Each missions organization offers a supplemental individual achievement plan alongside the weekly missions units. Do you lead Girls in Action? Check out GA Journey. What about Royal Ambassadors? See RA Trek. Did I forget Children in Action? Of course not—there’s Missions Expedition.

Why should you use individual achievement plans? It’s not because they fill time and provide fellowship. It’s not even because they are fun (which they are!). The individual achievement plans help children reinforce and live out the missions concepts they learn during regular sessions. It provides opportunities for children to deepen their missions discipleship and strengthen their faith.

Let the Redeemed of the Lord Tell Their Story

“Let those who have been set free by the Lord tell their story. He set them free from the power of the enemy” (Psalm 107:2 NIrV).

The thought of sharing your testimony can be daunting; I know it still is for me. Last summer, I traveled to Belize City on a missions trip with my church. For months leading up to the trip, we practiced delivering our testimonies over and over again. One night during the trip at a youth service, the time came for me to stand in front of thirty Belizean teenagers and share my encounter with God, what He did for me, and what He did for each and every one of them on the cross.

Each of us has a testimony, or story, to tell about what God has done in our lives. Even children need to know how to share their testimony and the gospel of Christ. The undeniable center of all missions is sharing the gospel so everyone has the opportunity to know the joy of Jesus Christ.

Dashing Through the Snow . . .

July seems like a strange time to be singing “Dashing through the snow . . . ” Most of us don’t sing Christmas carols this time of the year. If we sing, we’re singing vacation tunes or beach songs as we travel down a busy highway with our family.

Yet, a very important emphasis is coming later this summer, and missions leaders need to be gearing up now for it. The annual emphasis that is coming is called Christmas in August. Christmas in August is a time for boys and girls—and entire churches—to focus on the needs of missionaries serving in North America. Since 1927, Southern Baptist children have been collecting items for missionaries to use in their ministry. At first, those gifts went to missionaries serving in China. Now, the gifts are used in North America.

Children and Long-Distance Missions

Today’s the day. Another team is being commissioned before the church body to leave on an international missions trip. The children around you look on with awe as each team member is introduced and prayed over. Maybe they even whisper to each other about how cool it would be to participate in a trip like this.

And, they can participate! Maybe they cannot physically go on the trip, but they do have things to offer to the missions team.

Prayer. Every missions team needs prayer. They need prayer before the trip, during the trip, and even after the trip for the hearts and lives of the people to whom they witnessed. Lead group prayers with children. Assign each child or group of children a certain member of the missions team or a particular aspect of the trip to pray for, such as Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, service work, or youth ministry. Prayer is powerful, and children can help shape the missions trip by praying for the people of the country and the members of the team.

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1 NIV).

Fall is Coming!

A famous pastor once preached a sermon titled “It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming.” Of course, the sermon alluded to Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified and how desperate that day often seems. But, as the pastor reminded us, we can’t stop on Good Friday; we have to look forward to Resurrection Sunday.

Well, to play off of that sermon title, let me remind you that “It’s June, but the new church year is coming!”

Even in the heat of summer, the cooler days of fall will be here before we know it! Our missions organizations will kick off another year of teaching boys and girls about the Great Commission, missionaries who serve around the world, and ways they themselves may be called by God to serve.

As you prepare for the new church year, here are a few ways to start preparing now:

VBS: Very Big Suggestion

In June and July, your church is most likely hosting a Vacation Bible School (VBS). Whatever curriculum and theme you use, whether you do traditional VBS or a variation, you have a great opportunity to be on mission and to jumpstart missions education.

VBS and Backyard Kids Clubs have been on a great trend for churches in Tennessee as a way to get people outside the doors of their church and into their community to share the gospel. This has been exceptionally effective in churches in Memphis, Jackson, and Nashville, Tennessee. However, don’t forget that as you are reaching the lost children in your own community, VBS can also be a great way to introduce missions education in your church if you do not already have Girls in Action, Royal Ambassadors, or Children in Action. VBS classes can include a missions rotation. LifeWay VBS includes this in their materials, but even if you and your church are not doing the “Submerged” VBS this year, you can include a missions segment in your teaching time.

Some ideas:

GA Leaders' Retreat

For the past two summers, Kentucky WMU has sponsored GA Leaders’ Retreats. Our first retreat in 2014 was at a Baptist camp. Leaders came from across Kentucky to learn from and share with other GA Leaders. We began the weekend with “Speed Dating.” GA leaders got into two lines. Each line faced the other. I called out questions and requests, such as, “Where are you from?” and “Tell about your favorite mission project with your Girls in Action.” Leaders shared information with the leaders in the opposite line. When the whistle blew, one line moved down and we started the next “date.” This activity really seemed to warm up the participants. GA Leaders were eager to share ideas. (But that just may be the nature of GA Leaders!) We introduced the “All for You” theme, but our main topic for the weekend was “Balance.” Leaders explored ways to balance the learning styles of their GAs. We also discussed ways to keep our own lives balanced and focused on God. Our scripture for the weekend was: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

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