25 Jan

Campion Student uses new-found confidence in witnessing

By Campion Academy News – Loveland, Colorado … During winter break, Damaris, Campion student, was traveling back to Colorado with her family who made a short stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which had an unexpected consequence.

“We stopped at a Denny’s to get food. While we were waiting, I saw a homeless man asking for money,” remembers Damaris. Since she had spent the previous semester working as part of the literature ministries team at Campion Academy, she had gained confidence in talking to strangers about God.

“I remembered that my mom had the book “Happiness for Life” in the car, so I put money into it and gave him the book,” explained Damaris.

He said, “Thank you, but I don’t believe in God anymore,” not accepting the book.

Damaris asked, “If you don’t mind me asking, why don’t you believe in God anymore?”

The man responded, “Because my family told me that God did not exist.” He continued, “Do you believe in God?”

Damaris explained that she did.

He then asked, “Is it because your parents make you go to church, or do you go by choice?”

Damaris responded, “I go to church, and I believe in God because I always feel loved and always seem to be happier.”

She offered the book again, and this time the man welcomed it.

He asked if she knew of any churches nearby. Damaris took out her phone and searched for a nearby Seventh-day Adventist church, and she found one nearby. They parted ways, and as she went to eat with her family, Damaris prayed for the man to find a path to God.

When they had finished their meal, Damaris saw the man on her way out of the restaurant. He called out to her and said, “Thank you!”

Damaris asked, “For what?”

The man explained that while she was eating, he had gone to the church and spoken with the pastor there, and he had decided to attend Bible studies at that church.

Damaris reflected on the experience, “I felt amazing like something had just lit me up with joy. It felt so good to know that something so small that I had done had brought someone one step closer to God.”

–Campion News Team; photo supplied

25 Jan

COWBOYS AND COWGIRLS AND EVERYTHING COUNTRY AT TRUE LIFE’S WESTERN SABBATH

RMCNews with Bob Reynolds – Denver, Colorado … Cowboys and cowgirls were welcomed at True Life Community Adventist Church on January 8 as the church celebrated its annual Western Sabbath.

The event, one that many members anticipate, coincides with the Western Stock Show, which takes place every year in Denver. The day is a chance to dress in appropriate outerwear that cowboys and cowgirls wore in the day. Members brought out their best country-western boots, shirts, blouses, skirts, jeans, and ties to liven up the ambiance and add color to the event.

Bob Reynolds, pastor of True Life Church, explains how Denver is connected to its Western heritage. “We try to emphasize the fact that Denver, and Colorado in general, was founded with the discovery of gold and silver. Denver has a rich history of country-western men, women, and incidents since its founding in 1858.”

One highlight that sets the Sabbath apart is that Reynolds and the TLC music coordinator, Jane Campbell, have included gospel music that fits the country-western theme for the event.

Reynolds presented a message about Denver and its colorful history. Reflecting on the history, he said, “Did you know, for instance, that downtown Denver was destroyed by fire in 1863, or that a grasshopper infestation occurred in 1875? Or that Denver was named after James Denver, the governor of the Kansas Territory, who had already resigned as governor?  Denver could have been named after the succeeding governor, whose name was Samuel Medary. Our city could well have been called “Medary, Colorado!”

Reynolds adds that Denver also became a hub for many miners who traveled further into the mountains. Denver is also known for some colorful characters like Molly Brown, Dr. Justina Ford, and Mary Elitch.

Reynolds explains that the day was special, saying “We always enjoy talking about the wild west and the part Denver played in some of those Wild West Days.”

–RMCNews with Bob Reynolds, pastor at True Life Community Adventist Church; photos supplied

24 Jan

Mental Health in Black Communities

By Advent Health — The stigma that still surrounds mental health conditions prevents many individuals from seeking help when they need it most. When one is part of a minority group, those stigmas can be even more difficult to overcome.

We’re here to help break those barriers and talk about how our Black communities in particular are affected when it comes to mental health conditions and stereotypes. Help is around the corner and should be sought out whether the condition is mental or physical. Body, mind and spirit work together to form our whole health. When one is suffering, the others are affected.

Challenges with Mental Health Care

Only one in three Black adults who need mental health care receive it. While they are more likely than Caucasian adult to report emotional distress, they report it more as physical symptoms such as back pain or headaches. They are less likely to receive consistent care, not frequently included in studies and are more likely to use emergency departments and primary care rather than going to a mental health specialist for help.

While primary care is a great place to start, it’s important to get specialized care when needed, and as soon as possible after the symptoms begin. Those who live below the poverty line are more than twice as likely to report severe emotional distress than those who are financially secure.

Barriers to Be Broken

Not only do Black Americans seek professional help less frequently, they are faced with barriers to it. Like other minorities, socioeconomic factors make treatment harder to come by with not as much access to important health and educational resources. This can lead to poorer mental health outcomes.

Since there are often untrue stereotypes about people who have mental health conditions, minorities may experience more anxiety about having a mental health condition, worrying they will be discriminated against for that reason. It makes it all the more difficult for our Black communities to discuss mental health.

It’s okay to have a mental health condition, discuss it and seek help for it.

Care You Can Trust Across Cultures

A person with mental health challenges needs consistent, quality care to get better. At AdventHealth, we provide world-class care to everyone and treat every patient with dignity. AdventHealth honor all cultures, respect all wishes and strive to meet all needs. AdventHealth builds trusting relationships between patients and providers and Extend the Healing Ministry of Christ to them and their families. If you’re suffering, visit here and reach out for care from the heart that you can trust. You are whole and deserve to feel well in body, mind, and spirit.

–Photo supplied

This article was originally published on AdventHealth’s website

20 Jan

AVISTA ADVENTIST HOSPITAL REOPENS AFTER MARSHALL FIRE

RMCNews – Louisville, Colorado … Just three short weeks after the Marshall fire came within four feet of Avista Adventist Hospital’s oxygen tanks and covered everything inside with a thick layer of soot and ashes, the hospital reopened to serve the communities of Louisville and Superior.

Teams of professional cleaners scrubbed the hospital as maintenance workers replaced HVAC systems and air filters throughout the building. Areas were cleaned and sanitized multiple times before clearance was given that the hospital was ready to resume its mission of “extending the healing ministry of Christ by caring for those who are ill and by nurturing the health of the people in our communities.”

When Avista Adventist Hospital reopened on January 18, Colorado Governor Polis toured the site and thanked the associates for the bravery and hard work in reopening so quickly.

In an interview with radio station KOA, broadcasting live from Avista Adventist Hospital, Polis said, “It is great to see them bouncing back and reopening only three weeks after the fire when they evacuated the entire facility in just two hours.  It is actually quite remarkable.”

As the hospital reopened, associates and local pastors gathered in the lobby to pray a prayer of thanksgiving and dedication as they resumed their life-saving work.

Geoff Patterson, senior pastor at Boulder Adventist Church, explained why it was vital to be at the dedication to show support to the community. “The workers are so heroic in what they did on the day of the fire bringing everyone out of here safely, and their commitment shows that this is more than a job to them. Secondly, there is a history with the Boulder church and this institution that originally was part of what was behind the church. The health ministry built [the foundation of] what the Boulder church is to this day.”

The short service, held in the main lobby, began with chaplain Johnnathan Ward thanking the associates for their hard work to make reopening a possibility and thanked the local area pastors for being present for the associates as they navigated this disaster together.

The short ceremony also featured hospital CEO Isaac Sendros reading a poem from an associate who lost everything in the fire. In his letter to associates on January 17, Sendros said that the new city manager of Louisville had one word when he asked him what Avista could do for the city. The city manager said, “Reopen!  Avista is a pillar of hope in this community, and the fact that you are reopening as quickly as you are is sending a clear message to this community that the recovery and healing process is one step closer.”

Reflecting on having the associates back in the building, Sendros said, “It is so good to see everyone home. We’ve missed them!  A lot of people have been here working, but we are excited to have them back and our patients back.”

–RMCNews; photos courtesy of Avista Adventist Hospital and Jon Roberts

20 Jan

Special General Conference Session Delegates Approve Constitutional Amendment

By Adventist Review, and Adventist News Network — Silver Spring, Maryland … Delegates to a Special General Conference (GC) Session voted to allow the inclusion of a new section to Article V of the GC Constitution that will allow delegates to participate by digital means in a future GC Session in the event that unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances arise. The unanimous vote took place during a one-day, one-item session at the Adventist Church’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, on January 18, 2022.

The GC Constitution amendment vote would allow delegates to participate in the upcoming GC Session to take place June 6-11, 2022, even if they could not physically travel to the venue in St. Louis, Missouri, United States, because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, church leaders said.

Due to current COVID-19 travel restrictions, the delegates for the special January 18 Session were chosen using primarily individuals who currently work at the GC headquarters in Silver Spring. These delegations were approved by each division and consequently voted by the General Conference Executive Committee on September 16, 2021.

The recommended amendment, voted by the GC Session delegates, reads as follows:

Article V. Sec. 4. Generally, regular or specially called General Conference Sessions are to be held in person and onsite. However, delegates when requested by the General Conference Executive Committee may participate by means of an electronic conference or similar communications by which all persons participating can hear each other at the same time, and participation by such means shall constitute presence in person and attendance at such a meeting. Votes cast remotely shall have the same validity as if the delegates met and voted onsite.

The GC Executive Committee (EXCOM) would still have to make a decision at the appropriate time based on the current circumstances whether the GC Session would be held virtually, in person, or as a hybrid of the two.

Background to the Vote

The January 18 Special GC Session had been voted on April 13, 2021, by the members of the GC EXCOM. It was at that time that the January 18 date and the venue at the church’s headquarters were selected.

At the time, Adventist Church undersecretary Hensley Moorooven had detailed some of the factors considered in presenting this proposal. According to Moorooven, the GC Constitution stipulates that GC Sessions and all voting must take place in-person and onsite. Additionally, Article V, Section 1 of the constitution states that postponing a GC Session should not “exceed two years” beyond a regularly scheduled date. The possibility of another delay because of the ongoing worldwide impact of the pandemic would put the General Conference out of compliance with its governing document. Moorooven then had explained that amendments to the GC Constitution and Bylaws can only be done by the delegates at a regular or special GC Session. All in all, Moorooven said, the church leaders’ proposal stays within the appropriate provision of the GC Constitution and Bylaws.

In 2020, a meeting of the GC EXCOM had already voted to propose an amendment to the GC Constitution that would allow for virtual participation when specifically requested by the Executive Committee.

Based on the authority granted to it in Article V of the Constitution to reduce the total number of delegates to a GC Session for reasons of a “major crisis within the Church or international arena,” GC EXCOM had also voted on April 13 to reduce the total number of regular and at-large delegates to the January Special GC Session to 400 people for this specific meeting. The allocated quota of delegates for the GC, 13 divisions, and two attached unions was approved as well. The motion included a request that divisions unable to send their allotted quota of delegates due to travel restrictions or other reasons be allowed to reallocate their unused quota back to the GC. The GC Administrative Committee then designated these positions to individuals currently working at the GC headquarters, primarily from the divisions which shared their quota.

Feedback from Delegates and Leaders

During the January 18 Session, and after GC secretary Erton Köhler read and moved the amendment to Article V of the GC Constitution, several delegates approached one of the two microphones placed in the auditorium to weigh in on the motion proposed.

Murray Carson, a delegate representing the South Pacific Division, commented that in general, he agreed with what was being proposed. “It’s good to be able to vote remotely,” he said. “What I would like to present is that the part that’s being [changed] is fairly straightforward, fairly layman in nature. The part that we are inserting is more of a legalese.… I don’t particularly appreciate that…. [But] I think this is good for right now.”

GC education director Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, on the other hand, said she appreciated the solution found, given the circumstances. “Things are going to get worse as we get to the end of time. This allows us to stay organized as we move forward,” she said.

After the vote and on the sidelines of the January 18 Session, GC executive secretary Erton Köhler commented how he felt after the vote. “I was impressed by the strong support the delegates gave to the motion,” he said. “In situations like these, it is usual to get different opinions, but we received just a few observations. This shows to me that the church is united for mission.”

Köhler explained that the issue at hand was rather technical, unrelated to doctrinal or philosophical issues. “Still, it was important to approve it; otherwise, the work of the church may be hindered,” he said. “From the unanimous vote it was clear that delegates want the church to move forward.”

According to him, the vote also showed that the Adventist Church understands the times it’s living in. “I saw in delegates a clear interest in adapting our structure and processes, in making adjustments that may help the church to streamline its operations,” Köhler said.

GC general counsel Karnik Doukmetzian also weighed in on the January 18 Special GC Session, explaining the importance of the vote taken. “The vote to amend was significant in that it makes provision for the future in case meetings of the General Conference Session cannot be held in person to allow for individuals to be ‘present,’” Doukmetzian said. “World conditions may not allow for delegates to travel to be present in person, and this provision allows those delegates to participate and represent their territories even if they cannot physically travel to the site of the session.”

Doukmetzian explained that worldwide representation is important for a GC Session. Accordingly, “this provision will allow this to occur regardless of conditions which would prohibit travel or attendance,” he said.

–Adventist Review, and Adventist News Network; photo supplied

This article was originally published on the Adventist Review website

20 Jan

RMC commits to further counseling services for students

By Jill Harlow – Loveland, Colorado …The Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) administrative board recently voted to financially support continued access to Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) for students and staff at Campion Academy.

Over the past two weeks, LPCs Sandy Eickmann and Kathy Aiken have volunteered their services to meet the needs of students and staff processing the grief of losing their friend, Timothy. However, Campion’s administration has recognized that the need for counselors will continue, not only for the immediate crisis, but for the growing mental health challenges facing teens in recent years.

RMC Educational Superintendent Diane Harris explained that after the need was brought to the conference administrators, they were “100 percent in support of making sure that all Campion students and staff had access to LPC’s.”

RMC voted to provide up to 10 hours of counseling services for any student or staff for the duration of this school year. Campion Academy is actively seeking to contract with a Christian LPC to start working with students immediately.

Women’s head dean Molly Santana commented, “Counseling is something we have needed on campus for a long time, so it is definitely a positive that it will be continuing. We want our students to know that we understand that the past two years have been unprecedented, causing feelings and experiences that haven’t been easy to deal with. We want them to have the support they need.”

Campion Academy students are not immune to the mental health issues that have sky-rocketed in teens in recent years. In October of 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children’s Hospital Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry released a joint statement declaring the mental health crisis affecting children and adolescents a “National State of Emergency.”* In their statement, they advocate for more attention and funding to meet mental health needs of youth.

“We are so grateful to the Rocky Mountain Conference for filling this need at Campion Academy,” comments Principal Donavan Reeder. “Adventist Education not only seeks to give students academic knowledge but provide support for whole-person health: spiritual, physical, intellectual and social-emotional. Access to counselors will provide an important tool for our school to support students’ positive social-emotional health.”

–Jill Harlow is Campion Academy’s communication director; photo supplied

*www.aap.org

19 Jan

MHA REMEMBERS CLASSMATE WITH A DAY OF SERVICE

RMCNews – Broomfield, Colorado … Mile High Academy high school students spent January 14 giving back to the community, helping those impacted by the Marshall Fire by assisting in setting up the Adventist Community Service distribution center in Broomfield, Colorado.

Students worked side-by-side with the Adventist Disaster Response team unloading trucks, moving donations for sorting, breaking down hundreds of cardboard boxes, and helping stock shelves.

“It is absolutely amazing what the young people from MHA accomplished for me,” said Cathy Kissner, RMC Adventist Community Services director. “Days of work was done within a few short hours. I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for me.”

Chehalis, MHA senior reflected on the day, “It was nice to be doing something to help those in need,” she said. “We did a lot for them in a short amount of time and enjoyed helping where we could.”

The service day was also a chance for the students and staff to remember Mya Pena who tragically lost her life two years ago due to domestic violence.

“Some of my favorite memories of Mya were on our community service days,” said Jenni Eno, high school teacher. “Whether we were visiting residents at Porter Place or handing out burritos to the homeless downtown, Mya’s empathic heart was always evident. She would walk right up to perfect strangers, take their hands, and listen to their stories. She lived the same way in our school halls. She was always the first to reach out to a schoolmate who was having a hard day. She was truly an inspiration, and it meant so much to see that spirit live on through our current students as we remembered Mya on the anniversary of her passing.”

–RMCNews; photos supplied

This article was adapted from Mile High Academy’s newsletter

19 Jan

MEMBERS COME ALIVE IN PRAYER AT CAMPION CHURCH

By Teresa Johansen – Loveland, Colorado … Each January, as part of the new year and the world-wide 10-days of prayer initiative, Campion church comes together with others in Northern Colorado to be challenged and equipped in the discipline of prayer.  This year Pavel Goia, associate ministerial secretary and editor of Ministry Magazine, spent Friday evening and all-day Sabbath, January 7-8, on our campus pouring out a heart appeal to be in a place of surrender and sacrificial prayer with God.

Here are selected testimonies of the impact and decisions made for prayer.

More than anything, I was struck by the concept that I need to learn to “recognize God’s voice”, thru the continual conversation of prayer. With daily practice, this will allow me not only to be more confident of God’s will in my life, but also to be able to react more quickly to the promptings of His Spirit. I will be better equipped to not only recognize the needs of other people whom He puts in my path, but also be better equipped to serve them! – Rich Testardi

As I reflect back on this past weekend with Pastor Pavel Goia, two words come to mind–“beyond blessed.” We serve an amazing God Who wants to lead and guide us ever so close to Him. When we are faithful and do our part, we too will experience those miracles that God wants to bless us with that will increase our faith. I don’t ever want to limit the power of God and the changes He wants to make in my life. We must diligently pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The reflection on the Ten Virgins was so powerful. – Rose Martinez

Pastor Goia’s message plainly demonstrated the key elements of prayer that enabled Christ and other great biblical characters before and after Him to lead lives that produced many mighty events and miracles. Prayer is a lifestyle. We must be immersed in prayer throughout our lives. The most important piece is our constant connection to God. We must seek God and Him only. The God-centered life means we have to give up all of our selfish inclinations and seek only communion with the Creator of the universe. That sounds very basic, but in our weakened, sinful state, the only way this can happen is that we must die daily and possibly moment by moment to self and invite the Holy Spirit to change us into new beings. This lifestyle will bring perfect peace to us no matter what conflicts or trying events may occur. It will also open innumerable opportunities for us to minister to others if we follow God’s leading. It will also bring us to the foot of the cross where as we gain more insights as to its merits both here on earth and throughout eternity, we will be forever drawn to Him. – Wes Williamson

This was the first time I had the privilege of hearing Pavel Goia speak. What a dynamic and powerful speaker he is! You could sense the Holy Spirit working through him. His preaching sparked and awakened again in me that “first love” experience with God that we need to keep fresh continually. His message was also the perfect lead into the 10 Days of Prayer which my husband and I have enjoyed attending. I am so grateful for the Campion church and the pastoral leadership team who are listening to the Holy Spirit and sharing and challenging us to be a Spirit-filled church. – Judith Williamson

Although I had read Pastor Goia’s book on his amazing adventures with the Lord and had heard his messages before, this weekend was especially meaningful because I realized again how important group prayer is, and am determined to follow through with group prayer for our family, our church, and my personal life. I have already had some amazing answers to personal prayers in the last few months and am looking forward to even more in the coming year!  – Charlene Clegg

— Teresa Johansen is Campion Church administrator; photo courtesy of Campion Church Facebook page.

19 Jan

ACS OPENS DISASTER RELIEF WAREHOUSE IN BROOMFIELD

By Jon Roberts – Broomfield, Colorado … Responding to the wildfires that devastated Superior and Louisville, Colorado on December 30, Adventist Community Services (ACS) opened a warehouse in the old Nordstorm store in the Flatiron Crossing Mall in Broomfield, Colorado. Here, families can receive not only material goods but also mental health counseling and apply for assistance in the rebuilding process.

The State of Colorado reached out to Cathy Kissner, RMC ACS director, asking ACS to lead the state relief program and the warehouse. In one short week, Kissner and her crew of ACS volunteers from various churches around the Rocky Mountain Conference were able to oversee the setup and opening of the distribution center to the public.

On Monday, January 17, Deanne Criswell, FEMA administrator, and other federal officials toured the warehouse and met with Kissner and volunteers to thank them for their service.  Kissner stated that Criswell was very impressed with the operation and how quickly it launched.

Since opening, the center has been serving 150 individuals per day on average. Those needing assistance can browse clothing, pet supplies, hygiene products, food, toys, and other household items. Either FEMA or the Red Cross has vetted all families.

Individuals who need someone to talk to or to help them through any mental health issues that arise after loss are also available, explains Kissner. “We have licensed and credentialed mental health volunteers available through our partner Spark the Change. Eventually, we will have a private area where people can schedule visits with counselors. I am working with Mickey Mallory to schedule pastors who can spend time in the warehouse to be available for any spiritual counseling needs.”

Kissner explains that the warehouse is getting a few volunteers from the churches but is daily in need of volunteers. “Pathfinder and youth groups are welcome. Please contact me at [email protected] to schedule volunteer options.”  For volunteers over 18, please sign up and schedule volunteer hours on the Colorado Responds website https://volunteer.coloradoresponds.org/opportunity/a0C2S00003H3Sc1UAF.

She adds that volunteers will sort clothing, toys, and other donations. Some volunteers may be on the floor where families are browsing, but most will be on the second floor of the distribution center, away from the families.

Assisting the community is essential for June Spaulding, member of the Fort Collins Adventist Church.  She has been volunteering and assisting in the warehouse. “People are so emotional and thankful when we help them get and replace items that are destroyed.”

Larry Brandt, member of the Mountain View Adventist Church, views volunteering at the center as a mission. “I have a heart for missions, and this is [one].  When you give of yourself, it is better to give than to receive. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”

The response for donations has been overwhelming; however, some items not in general donation requests are in great need. “We are in need of pallets to store the unsorted and sorted donations,” Kissner commented.

Kissner explains that money is also needed. “Cash donations are ideal because there is equipment that we need to buy. An example would be if we are short on mouthwash, we can purchase ten bottles of mouthwash till we receive some donations of mouthwash.” She adds that the rent and power for the building are being supplied by the state, and donations are never used to pay any salaries. The quickest and most secure way to give is by using the Adventist Giving website, Kissner adds. On the website, choose Rocky Mountain Conference Church and select the line item: ACS DR. Also, you can mail donations to the RMC Treasury Department or place donations in the offering at your local church. Please make sure to mark all donations ACS DR.

The ACS warehouse is open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. seven days a week for the next few months. Find out more ways to help at https://www.rmcsda.org/marshall-fire-relief-and-support/

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photos by Jon Roberts

Cathy Kissner holding a sifter box for individuals to sift through the ashes to find valuables.
19 Jan

Make the Church Accessible and Safe for Children and Their Families

By Daron Pratt — Our children are in crisis. They are constantly bombarded by a wide range of technology and impacted by cultural change, much of it negative. Modern affluent societies overflow with a range of goods produced for the entertainment, pleasure, convenience, and education of our children. Children are firmly in the sights of corporations with a barrage of marketing and advertising designed to capture this multibillion-dollar market, yet something is wrong.

The current generation of children is more stressed; less content; and less healthy physically, socially, and mentally than any other generation. Sharon Beder writes that “the consequence of this corporate capture of childhood has been a generation of children who have been manipulated, shaped, and exploited as never before in history. Not only have they lost the opportunity to play and develop at their own pace, their psyches have been damaged and their view of the world distorted. Children have never been under such pressure to ‘succeed, conform and look good.’” The stresses that children and families are under today interfere with their discipleship journey, and the church needs to respond in creative and relevant ways to reach this generation.

Our churches are in crisis. Researchers suggest that between 60 percent and, in some cases, 90 percent of the children who currently attend your church will leave it. Many will decide to do this before they reach their teenage years.

These statistics are juxtaposed against the words of Jesus, who instructs us to let the children come to Him and do not hinder them. The task for churches, schools, and families to disciple and retain our children is huge. When are we going to wake up and take the words of Jesus seriously? We need to aim lower, much lower than we previously have, if we are going to reach children and their families.

Children and their families must be prioritized everywhere—in our pro- grams, our budgets, our service activities, our mentoring, and our mission! Loving the children in the 4–14 window is the key. Do we know them by name, both in and outside the church? Do we affirm them? Do we include them in our worship services? Do they feel like they belong? Are our programs and initiatives truly intergenerational? Dead men’s tales just do not cut it when it comes to our children.

Equipping parents is also essential. Children are likely to be as faithful as their parents are. This means that we need to equip our parents to be the best spiritual “disciplers” they can be. How are we, as a church, prioritizing parents in our discipleship ministries? Are children and families our great commission or great omission?

We must also learn to make every effort to welcome, tolerate, and include children in our corporate worship. If I do not hear a baby crying in a church service, then I know that the church is dying. Children are a sign—when we welcome children into worship, we welcome the very presence of Jesus. What would happen if we dared to assume that children have the same rights to the sights, sounds, touches, tastes, and smells of worship as adults? What would happen if we intentionally welcomed children into worship? As we begin to think about what it means to welcome children to worship, here are some important aspects to consider.

Excellence in ministry to the 4–14 window

We know that children are more likely to make a lifelong decision to follow Jesus sometime during what is known as the 4–14 window. This window is an age bracket, and it is indeed one of the largest unreached people groups on the planet.

It is interesting to note that most church congregations devote 80 percent of their budget dollars to adult ministries, while only 10–20 percent goes to children and family ministries.3 More dedicated and consistent investment in children and families could well be the first step to reversing the alarming statistics of loss found in almost all our churches.

Eighty percent of all who find Christ do so by the age of fourteen; 90 percent by age twenty-five. This has been labeled the 4–14 window of opportunity. Children are also more likely than adults to evangelize their friends. The church has often targeted adults with evangelistic outreach. However, research indicates that reversing the current funding is likely to result not only in our children making lifelong decisions for Christ but also in evangelistic kingdom growth.

It thus makes sense that if children are more likely to respond to the gospel than adults, children’s facilities should be the best that we can offer. Rather than being a gloomy, run-down room or building at the back of the church, our children’s facilities should be large and well lit, have appropriate amenities, and be creatively decorated. These types of facilities are more likely to be full of children, along with their families. In my ministry, I have found from trial and error that the larger the room and the more cared for and equipped that room is, the higher the number of children and their parents who attend will be. I have seen churches revolutionized and revitalized just because they chose to prioritize children and families. On the other hand, among the biggest factors inhibiting church growth are poorly maintained children’s facilities and inadequate parking.

Children’s Ministries research revealed that families place a premium on the children’s ministry experience of their kids. The majority (66 percent) said the children’s ministry program was “very important” in their overall consideration when they chose their current church. Parents ranked “the Children’s Ministry” as the third most important reason they joined their current church—only marginally behind “the church’s emphasis” and “preaching.” “Your children’s ministry is a growth engine for church growth.”

Excellence in children’s programming is also important. We can run all the “cute” programs we like and entertain to our heart’s content. We can use all of the latest technology and gadgets. However, we must remember that the aim of all programs and ministries is to change lives and help our children along the discipleship journey. Children need adult mentors in their lives who are committed to the long haul with these children rather than just a passing phase. Churches need to staff their children’s ministries first, and with their most talented members, rather than just plugging holes. Our children need staff who have a big heart for God and a big heart for children. Children identify with the significant mentors in their lives and hang on their every word. If we want eternal values to be in our children’s hearts, then they have to be in ours first. Staff mentors must be authentic and committed. Children can spot hypocrisy a mile off, and it is one of the biggest disrupters to their discipleship journey.

These are key performance indicators of 4–14 window churches:

  • Invest significantly in the 4–14 window
  • Prioritize children and families everywhere
  • Renovate and refurbish their children and family spaces
  • Activate the church

In our modern culture, children frequently find themselves disconnected from the community around them for various reasons. Family breakups and/or busy parents often mean our children find themselves home alone for extended periods. The myriad of modern technologies, including social media, the internet, gaming, iPods, and laptops, means that children can now access most things from their bedrooms at home with little need to venture to a library, shopping center, or other public space. The resulting individuation and loss of connection and mentors mean that now, more than ever, the church needs to see itself as an interactive community that connects the people in its congregation in intergenerational activities and programs. Adventurer and Pathfinder clubs are two of the best mentoring, intergenerational, and evangelistic programs that the church offers, and we would do well to connect every family to these groups intentionally.

We also must make sure that every church program is intergenerational because this is where the faith of our children develops best. Reggie Joiner, author of Think Orange, says, “The Church has a unique opportunity to connect kids with Christian adults who will value them enough to help them interpret life, support them in times of tragedy, and carry them through life transitions.” Benjamin Lundquist believes that “withing” is key to faith transmission. “Mentoring is deeper ‘withing.’” “We don’t need to teach them, just hang out together on the curb, give them authority to make decisions, give them clarity of purpose, and give them intergenerational consistency.”

Jerome Berryman says that what children experience in church is what they associate with Christianity. This means that what we expose our children to in church is crucial to faith transmission and long-term commitment to the church, its ministry, and mission.

This is why it is important that we intentionally make our worship services intergenerational, welcoming, and accessible for children and families. I believe that something is seriously wrong when a family that has been separated and busy during the week arrives in church only to separate for their age-related activity, then meet up again after church for the trip home. While age-targeted activities are beneficial and necessary, corporate intergenerational worship on a regular basis is a must. Intergenerational worship is a strong formative agent for everyone, so we need to ensure that what we do in worship is relevant and nurtures the kind of people we want our children and ourselves to be.

John Westerhoff writes, “If our children are to have faith, they must have opportunities to worship with the adults of the church. Worship is not only a time when the content of faith is delivered, but also a time when our churches communicate the feelings, subtle nuances, and transcendent meanings of faith.”

When families attend worship services together, children see their parents identifying with the church family and prioritizing their faith. Children watch their parents and others sing, pray, and give of their resources. Observing these rituals has a positive effect on the long-term discipleship of children.

Kara Powell and Chap Clark found in their Sticky Faith research that our children and teens flourish when we surround them with a minimum of five significant adults who can speak into their lives. These are adults whom we trust, who know them by name and stand for the same ideals and values that we as parents stand for. Further, Powell and Clark discovered that there is a strong correlation between children attending all-age intergenerational worship and sticky faith. This finding is as close as their research came to finding the “silver bullet” in developing a faith that sticks for our children and teens.

A church that welcomes children will make an effort to structure its worship space and liturgy to include children in the worship event as a matter of routine, not as an occasional, special-event, cute factor. It is not easy to create these sorts of worship services, but when we are creative and considerate, we can create worship services that nurture the faith of every church member.

David Csinos and Ivy Beckwith say that discipleship is about “walking alongside children on the path of discipleship, apprenticing them into the way that Jesus laid out for all of us. We who work with children are disciples, just like those young people in our midst. We are formed as disciples even as we form others. Children and adults walk the path together as equals on a common journey of discipleship.”

Intentional intergenerational churches will also create intergenerational play-and-pray areas in their worship spaces where children can quietly do activities as they listen and interact with what is happening in worship. Often these activities are based on the themes for the day, and this allows the children to create, reflect on, and internalize the themes.

Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research, said, “Teens are looking for more from a youth ministry than a holding tank with pizza.  They look for a church that teaches them how to live life. As they enter young adulthood, church involvement that has made a difference in their lives gives them a powerful reason to keep attending.” We, the church, need to make sure that we give our children and families a myriad of reasons to keep attending church. This means being friendly, relevant, welcoming, and inclusive of children and families everywhere.

–Daron Pratt, BA, MA in theology, has been a children’s pastor for the past twenty-six years and is currently the Family and Children’s Ministries director for the North New South Wales Conference in Australia. Pratt’s passion for children’s ministry and evangelism is contagious, and he travels the world to gain resources in this area. Photo supply

This article is an excerpt from the newly available book Multiply.

This article was originally published on the NAD Ministerial website.