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Our Philosophy of Youth and Children's Ministry

Ministry to children and youth is a priority at First Presbyterian Church because it was a priority to Jesus and was essential in the Old Covenant. Deuteronomy 6 gives us the shape that ministry to children and youth ought to take in the local church. From this passage, we observe that this ministry ought to be covenantal, relational, parental, discipleship-oriented, and ordinary means of grace-based. It should be designed to nurture, teach, and equip our young people to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” (2 Peter 3:18) and assist parents in the Christian nurture and instruction of their children (Ephesians 6:4). Below is an elaboration of our distinctives:

Covenantal: Our ministry will be primarily aimed at the covenant children of our congregation. Our first priority is not to evangelize or disciple children outside of our congregation (although that is important!), but to minister to the children of our church members. It is our desire that the children of First Presbyterian Church come to embrace Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and increase in their Christian maturity and growth in grace.

Relational: There will always be a large-group teaching aspect to youth and children’s ministry, but the discipleship of our youth will be fundamentally relational. One-to-one meetings, small groups, friendships between staff, volunteers, church members, and students will be instrumental because one of the most effective and biblical means of discipleship is relational.

Parental: Sunday School did not exist in churches until the 1800s. When Sunday School was initiated, many people protested that it would cause Christian parents to become complacent in the discipleship of their children because they would outsource that responsibility to the church. We are aware of that concern and of that reality. Therefore, we do not view ministry to children and youth as a replacement of parental discipleship, but as a means to assist, support, encourage, supplement, and complement parents as they seek to disciple their children. Children’s and youth ministry works best when two godly parents intentionally seek to train up their children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6) and raise their children in the nurture and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Thus, ministry to children and youth will seek to come alongside parents to teach, support, and encourage them in their God-given responsibilities and privileges to their children.

Discipleship-oriented: Our goal is to see our young people develop a deep, mature, personal knowledge of the grace of God that has been given to them in the gospel. This means that we will be “people-based” rather than “program-based,” and “process-based” rather than “event-based” in our approach.

Ordinary means of grace-based: The means by which God grows his church is through the word, the right participation in the sacraments, and prayer. Because of this, we will seek to include children and youth in corporate worship, provide them with solid Biblical teaching, offer confirmation classes to prepare children to participate in the Lord’s Supper, and pray with and for them.

Church-connected: While we will continue to offer Sunday School classes and opportunities for children and youth to grow together in generationally appropriate ways, we will also seek to integrate our young people into the life and ministry of the local church. Since the church is cross-generational, we believe that church life functions best when young and old alike can come alongside each other, learn from and support one another, and participate together in the work and life of the church.