“What exactly does Family Ministry do?” I have no idea. Just kidding. Many churches separate their children ministry from their youth ministry. They have different pastors, different visions, different services and volunteers. We aren’t different from those churches in those ways, but we do a few things that make us one team, not two.
We meet every other Thursday to make sure we are all on the same page and we strive to support each other in every way possible. We go on a yearly retreat together. We share one vision for the kids and students. We work together through our transitions – especially the transition from 5th grade to 6th grade. We have a Family Ministry Pastor, Jen Davis, who leads us in vision and working together. We have core values that we work and live by. And lastly, when VCC created “Family Ministry”, we came up with 12 Essentials – that is, 12 qualities that we believe every mature, growing, follower of Christ has. We agreed that if we could help develop these things in our kids and students then we would really be making great disciples. These kids would grow up to be leaders in their churches, in their work places, in their families, in their neighborhoods. They would have strong marriages and their families wold be a testimony of Jesus’ goodness to everyone around them. We tried to limit this list to 8 or even 10, but we liked every single one of them too much. Check out our list of 12 Essentials.
Knowing the Bible
Identity in Christ
Understanding your Design
Sharing God’s Story
Commitment to the Meeting
Tithing & Stewardship
Intimacy with God
We don’t claim that this is the end-all of lists that define what a Christian is, but it’s what we are focusing on building into the kids and students from 3 months old, to 18.
Our first essential, Knowing the Bible, is probably the foundation of all of these essentials. If you know what God says about you, the world, Himself, the future, and your purpose on earth, many of those other 11 Essentials will naturally come. This is why we teach from the Bible each week. We don’t make up stories about our lives to speak a nice moral story to kids. We aren’t a club for kids who want to have a good life. We teach the truth because we know that if a kid knows the truth about God, nothing else matters. A child can be morally good, they can serve others, they can have great friendships, but if they don’t know and follow the truth about God then all that knowledge got them was just… knowledge.
In our youth ministry, we are applying this first essential by handing out Bible reading plans that last 4 months. We have one for the Fall, Winter/Spring, and one for the Summer. We have Bibles readily available for anyone who doesn’t have them, and we teach deep, solid truths from the Bible each Sunday morning and Wednesday night. We have our High School students attend the main service on Sunday mornings because we know that for them to fully understand the Bible, they need to hear it in different ways with different voices than just ours. We also require daily accountability with our student leaders for their Bible reading. We have a fabulous group chat where students post what they read that day and many of them even include short devotionals with their post where they describe how God spoke to them that day.
What do you think of our 12 Essentials? What would you add? What are your top 3 favorites and what are some ways you apply them in your own life, or in your discipleship of others?