- The Priority of Parenting
- The Responsibility of Children
- The Role of the Church
- Children’s Programs
The Children’s Ministry at The Bible Church of Little Rock has the primary goal of seeing that children discover who God is through the Word of God so that they will be convicted of their lost condition and turn to Christ for salvation. The Bible provides two clear emphases for this goal to be achieved. These emphases are the priority of godly parenting (which is supported by the local church), and the responsibility of children to respond rightly to this godly parenting.
The Priority of Parenting The Bible wonderfully explains that children are both a reward and a gift of the Lord (Psalm 127:3). The miracle of children is incomprehensible, as the origin of each child is conceived of, designed, and formed by God, the Author of life. (Psalm 139:13). The Apostle Paul echoed this when he said: “He Himself [God] gives to all life and breath and all things…for we also are His offspring” (Acts 17:25,28). God is not only the Creator of life, He also is the designer of the family wherein children are to be raised spiritually (Psalm 128:3). Accordingly, the New Testament is very clear that parents must be the number one influence in the life of their children (Ephesians 6:4). Children who grow up in the home under a believing parent receive a spiritual advantage because they are continually being influenced in Christianity. Scripture affirms this in 1 Corinthians 7:14b, categorizing children like these as “set-apart” or “holy.” This category of “set-apart” or “holy” in no way guarantees salvation, but connotes that these children are providentially positioned to respond in repentance and faith to the gospel.
The nature of sin makes raising children in godliness no easy task. Contrary to what our culture purports, children are born sinners (Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:10). Sin, since the fall of Adam, has been passed down to every baby, with the exception of Christ. (Genesis 3:6-7; Romans 5:12). David reiterates this saying, “Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). Based upon children being born in sin, they will automatically rebel against their parents which is ultimately against the Lord (Proverbs 22:15, Romans 3:10-12). In response to this rebellion and disobedience, parents must lovingly administer discipline to their children, guiding them to turn away (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10) from sin to Christ (Proverbs 13:24, 19:18, 23:13-14).
Along with the faithful parental administration of discipline, consistently teaching God’s Word is commanded (Ephesians 6:4b). In the Old Testament, Moses gave a clear mandate to the Israelites to instruct their children in the Law and its daily application (Deuteronomy 6:2-9) to insure that the fear of God would be passed down from generation to generation. Two New Testament parents who were faithful in this way were Timothy’s grandmother, Lois, and Timothy’s mother, Eunice (2 Timothy 1:5). The Apostle Paul, in 2 Timothy 3:15, commends their godly efforts by noting they had raised Timothy in the Scriptures from “infancy.”
The Responsibility of Children Though Scripture clearly lays the burden upon the parents to raise their children in the Lord, children also have a biblical mandate to obey God’s Word. Hannah, a godly mother from the Old Testament, dedicated her son Samuel to the Lord in the priesthood of . Samuel, in God’s providence, evidently responded rightly as a young boy being raised in the priesthood because 1 Samuel 2:16 records that he grew “in stature and in favor both with the Lord and with men” (1 Samuel 2:26). In a superior manner, Christ Jesus, being without sin from the beginning, always responded in righteousness to both his earthly parents and His heavenly Father (Luke 2:51, John 5:30). The Gospels tell us that Jesus as a twelve year old “astonished” and “amazed” those who heard His teaching (Luke 2: 42,47-48). Also, like Samuel, He increased “in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” Based upon these biblical examples and others, The Bible Church encourages children to take positive steps toward God from their earliest days (cf. Matt. 21:15-16; Mark 10:13-16).
The over-arching New Testament commands regarding the responsibility of children are found in Ephesians 6:1-2. Ephesians 6:1-3 addresses children directly saying “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth” (cf. Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16; Colossians 3:2). In the same way, the Proverbs call children to obey their parents’ instruction. The Proverbs, similarly to Ephesians 6:1-3, teach that obedience promises children a blessed and protected life (Proverbs 1:8-19; 3:1-2; 5:1-2). From these commands it is clear that children have the responsibility to obey.
The obedience of children is not slavish, but, on the contrary, a blessed obedience. As children listen to and obey the Word of God, they will become wiser than those who are their elders (Psalm 119:100), will be kept in purity (Psalm 119:9), and most of all, they will gain the “…wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). This is our greatest desire at The Bible Church of Little Rock.
The Role of the Church Having cited these two biblical emphases the question remains: “What does the Bible say regarding the church and its involvement in children’s ministry?” Regarding the role of the church, in children’s ministry, there is no direct biblical mandate. However, just as with any principles from Scripture, the church is commanded to declare the aforementioned biblical emphases by preaching and teaching (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Timothy 4:1-2). Nevertheless, in addition to preaching and teaching these principles, in efforts to faithfully “equip the saints,” and “shepherd the flock of God,” (Ephesians 4:12; 1 Peter 5:2) The Bible Church presently offers particular parent and children programs.
Children’s Programs We provide regular classes for parents needing instruction for raising their children. These classes not only offer teaching but also accountability for parents as they cultivate faithfulness in the home.
- Parenting classes and other family related classes are overseen by the Adult Ministries at BCLR.
- For children’s education at The Bible Church, the pre-school and the elementary age children gather for Children’s Worship.
- Pre-School Children’s Worship meets during the 10:30 Worship Service. Parents having 3 and 4 year old children may choose to have their children in Pre-School Children’s Worship. We encourage Kindergarten aged children to attend the Worship Service with their parents.
- 1st – 6th Children’s Worship takes place during the 9:00 Equipping Hour. The children are being taught specific creed statements which are developed within BCLR’s children’s ministry. We call this Our Creed. Here children learn the corporate disciplines of worship such as singing, praying, and sitting under the proclamation of Scripture. During the Equipping Hour teachers meet with children in a classroom setting to instruct them from God’s Word. The teachers use God-centered curriculum so that children of all ages will gain a greater understanding of God’s character.
- Pre-School – Old and New Testament Survey from Desiring God Ministries (www.DesiringGod.org) .
- Kindergarten – A study on the Attributes of God from Desiring God Ministries.
- 1st – 2nd Grade – A survey from Creation to Christ from Answers in Genesis.
- 3rd Grade – A study on the Promises of God from Desiring God Ministries.
- 4th Grade – A study on the Providence of God from Desiring God Ministries.
- 5th and 6th Grade – The Names of God and “I Believe in Jesus, Justification and Sanctification” from Desiring God Ministries.
This is also the setting where children have their questions answered and the teachers pray with them. On Wednesday evenings we provide a program called AWANA (Approved Workman are not Ashamed). This is a mid-week program fro the purpose of Scripture memory, fun and community outreach.
- AWANA begins each fall and runs through spring on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Each summer we offer Vacation Bible School. A theme is chosen to help children understand Spiritual truth. This is one of unique opportunities as a church to reach the surrounding community with the Gospel.
Every October 31st we have a Reformation Celebration at The Bible Church, where we teach families the history and significance of the Reformation through dramatic presentation and preaching.
Finally, nursery is provided so that the youngest children (birth through 3 years old) are cared for during times of worship. This is an opportunity for the Body of Christ to serve each other by freeing up parents to enjoy unhindered worship during church services. The nursery classes for the one-and-two-year old children prepare them for pre-school as they begin to hear Bible lessons and sing together on a week-to-week basis.