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Let the children know

Some key features of a healthy church are surely that it cares for the children, makes time for the vulnerable and welcomes the outsider; and, indeed, a church that does all this with energy, vision and compassion. In the Bible, the faithfulness of God’s people was viewed by how well they obeyed the command to care for 'the fatherless, the widow and the stranger'. In the same way, the church should exist not for itself but for others, and this is of course our mission.

As those who work with children and families, we are part of this high calling, and the beginning of a new academic year is an opportunity to ask our churches to re-commit themselves to this ministry and also to re-dedicate ourselves to our work. More and more churches are holding a special service to do just this and the following outline could be useful in framing such an act of congregational support with its promises that are both corporate and personal. At the very least, you might like to use what follows with others in your church who meet to plan the Sunday or midweek group programme, making copies for them to keep and to use in their prayers throughout the year ahead.

The opening verses of Psalm 78 have often been called 'A children's workers' charter' but in its original, wider sense it represents that strong Old Testament tradition of valuing the family and its commitment to pass on the faith from generation to generation. Read these verses together before your act of re-dedication:

My friends, I beg you to listen as I teach. I will give instruction and explain the mystery of what happened long ago. These are things we learnt from our ancestors, and we will tell them to the next generation. We won't keep secret the glorious deeds and the mighty miracles of the LORD. God gave his Law to Jacob's descendants, the people of Israel. And he told our ancestors to teach their children, so that each new generation would know his Law and tell it to the next. Then they would trust God and obey his teachings, without forgetting anything God had done. Psalm 78:1 - 7 (CEV, bold - author's emphasis)

A congregational commitment to working with children at your church

Leader: Inspired by the Holy Spirit, following the example of our Lord Jesus and by the grace of God, will you:

Congregation: With the help of God, we will.

A congregational commitment to the working with children in your community

Leader: Inspired by the Holy Spirit, following the example of our Lord Jesus and by the grace of God, will you:

Congregation: With the help of God, we will.

A personal commitment to working with children by the children's ministry team

Leader: Inspired by the Holy Spirit, following the example of our Lord Jesus and by the grace of God, will you:

The children's ministry team: With the help of God, I will.

Finish this re-dedication and re-commitment to children's ministry with the words of Deuteronomy 6:4 - 9 (CEV, bold - author's emphasis):

Listen, Israel! The LORD our God is the only true God! So love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. Memorise his laws and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and foreheads to help you obey them. Write these laws on the door frames of your homes and on your town gates.