Have you ever had the experience of arriving at church caffeinated, pumped for the morning and expectant of what God is going to do only to look around and wonder, where is everyone?
As the morning continues you have set up, gone to the prayer meeting and after all that, only dribbles of people have arrived. You find your seat, close your eyes as the first worship song choruses out over the building and then, by the end of three, maybe four songs you turn around and wonder where on God’s good earth all those people came from? It’s as if in the blink of a slow, soulful worship song’s eye that the whole church has arrived. You might even sigh with relief, everyone is here. The culture of arrive-late/leave-early can somehow attach itself to church.
People arrive and leave unseen and unconnected and it seems that it’s always the same crowd who make the effort to stay and build relationships and the same crowd running in and out of the doors just in time. This presents a major problem when you consider that we are called to be planted in the House of God and that we are called to be in community. God has created community as a central part of the church, even God lives in community with himself – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as three in one.
Community matters. So how do we restore a sense of community to our church?
You might be surprised that I would draw your attention to kids – correction – families ministries as a powerful tool to build your church and restore community, strong relationships and a hunger for serving in the house of God.
God is not just into reaching individuals, he is into reaching whole households.
In Acts 16:30-32 we find this principal in action. Paul and Silas had been thrown into jail for preaching the word of God and began to sing hymns to God. As they did, a loud thunder cracking earthquake shook the prison and the doors flung open. The jailer woke and in terror of his impending and terrible punishment for losing prisoners, was prepared to take his own life before Paul called out and ministered to him. The jailer fell, trembling before him and asked them:
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved? They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.”
Paul and Silas were not just speaking to the man, they were speaking to their whole house. In C3 Families we believe strongly in this principal that God wants to reach whole families. We don’t do kids curriculum – we do kids services. We bring the word of God and develop their understanding of who he is; we bring praise and worship and impart a heart of praise in the kids; we speak messages that are not teacher-talk but relevant and powerful messages; we give the call to ask Jesus into their hearts and see kids respond; we see kids transformed, we see the power of God move.
It’s no accident that when Jesus was living, there was a moment where the disciples were offended by parents bringing their kids to Jesus as He layed hands on them and prayed with them. “faith like a child” is not a nice analogy, it’s a spiritual reality. I would challenge you with the question, is there a ‘junior Holy Spirit’ or just the one powerful Holy Spirit who lives in us? If you give kids the understanding and opportunity to take a bold step and ask God to speak to them or fill them with His Spirit, He is ready to perform his word.
Fun and power is just as relevant in kids ministry as it is in any other. But the mission doesn’t stop there.
I would ask every kids service leader to put down the craft scissors and pick up the call to build church community through your families.
At C3 Oxford Falls we often had the experience described at the beginning of this post. We found we had to keep kids check-in open for forty minutes after the service had started and that often, fifteen minutes after the service had ended, all the kids were gone not just from our care, but from the church campus as well. Something needed to shift.
We needed a way to build family community in our church. We needed to bring an answer to a void that had presented itself in our church. There were two key principals that kick-started what became a big draw card for families to not only linger and connect with other families but also to serve and become builders of the House of God, beyond the walls of ‘C3 Kids’. Those principals were the importance of a good feed and the belief in the whispered words in A Field Of Dreams… ‘if you build it, they will come.’ So we pioneered ‘Big Brekkie’.
To be perfectly honest, it was a laborious beginning. We needed to provide a place that engaged not only the hungry bellies of our church community, but also our families on both parental levels and kid levels. We began to call parents and ask them to serve with us, trying to impart the vision we had for building our church community. Not long after endless callouts to recruit parent team and a series of planning and budget meetings as well as emails and texts to families advertising the pre-party, we began to see a beautiful thing emerge; community.
We found that through our kids database we could identify families who were not currently serving and get them planted in the house by providing an accessible way to build the House of God. It’s just bacon and egg’s you’re frying, after all. But it isn’t just bacon and eggs that we’re frying. It’s the ‘come-late, leave-early’ culture being fried out of our families. We are blessed to have the support of the whole church on this front and every morning at 9:15 when the eggs flip onto people’s plates and the kids activities are brought to life it is an absolute breath of fresh air. Everyone is here.
There are opportunities to engage your families in church life when you remember the importance of the pathway between kids and their parents, and families with other families. Big Brekkie is one of a few projects that have been born out of this realisation for us. I encourage you also to take a step of faith in realising how God wants to move specifically in kids, within your kids services. We often find that Kids who get saved in our kids services are saying the prayer at the same time that their parents have chosen to pray it in the adult church service. We have seen kids receive the gift of speaking in tongues. We have seen kids hear God speaking to them about their futures, only for those kids to receive prophetic words from their leaders confirming the exact same thing. We have seen parents so thankful that their kids are growing their relationship with God and are being built up in the ways of God.
It is not nor should it ever be, kids ministries. It should always be families ministries as a powerful way to build and strengthen our church community.
Stacie, along with her husband Nick, are the C3 Families Pastors of C3 Sydney.
They are passionate about seeing young people and families firmly planted and engaged, loving the House of God. Since taking this role, Nick and Stacie have seen C3 Kids services grow and now oversee 13 services. Nick and Stacie firmly believe in creating not only fun but power filled services making room for the power of God to work in young peoples lives.