“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” reads Karen Holford (Family Ministries Director for the Trans-European Division) Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:3, and says that Jesus does not tell children to become like adults, but tells adults to be like children. Jesus valued children. While He was preaching, children could see the parables happening before their own eyes; they did not have to sit in uncomfortable church pews, where in many cases the only thing they can see, is the back of the pew before them. “Each church service brings children a step closer to God or drives them further away”, adds Karen. “How to make our church services the evangelism opportunities for our children?”, she asks.
These thoughts expressed the main theme of the conference that took place on 9 – 10 April in Riga’s I church. How to help our children to walk a discipleship path, how does their faith develop, what are the methods of positive discipline, christianity at home – what does it look like – these were some of the topics that were covered by the presenters Linda Koh (Children’s Ministries Director for the General Conference), Clair Sanches (Children’s and Women’s Ministries Director for the Trans-European Division) and Karen Holford. In addition to the topics already mentioned, Linda Koh opened the participants the beauty and importance of spiritual leadership, and Clair Sanches gave some practical ideas about how to make Sabbath School classes more engaging for children.
Madli (Children’s Ministries Director for the Estonian conference) has following recollections of the conference: “From week to week, month to month and year to year the children’s Sabbath School lessons are carried out. We know the names of “our” children, we have noticed their character traits and behavioural patterns. How much have we thought about helping them to exercise their character strengths in order to grow in Christ? While preparing Sabbath School lessons, it is important to think about every child, so that the topic could touch everyone through the methods chosen. Since experiencing something helps to learn the new information the best way, using crafts and plays has a great value in Sabbath School classes. Every child has priceless value in the eyes of God, and we need each other’s support and God’s wisdom and guidance to help them to stay with God.”
Angeelika (Estonia), who is a teacher, adds that although there was nothing completely new for her, she could find inspiration and encouragement to start using some ideas, even with her own child.
Vilma (Children’s Ministries Director for the Lithuanian conference) expresses similar thoughts. She says that although some people knew some ideas before, it is always good to talk about these truths, in order not to forget them. Also the lecturers were very good according to her.
Karolina, a participant from Lithuania, was full of enthusiasm and energy after the conference and said that she would like to start using the knowledge and skills acquired at the conference in her own little church in Lithuania.
May we always see children through God’s eyes; may we value them the way Jesus did; and may we be willing to help them with our knowledge and expertise to follow Christ and become His true disciples!