Happy second quarter dear friends!
I want to “cede the ground” of my monthly news-letter article to write instead a more-or-less announcement regarding SONquest, our children’s ministry! As many of you know, perhaps all too well, that I am not nearly as gifted at engaging the little ones as Luke Long is, but this is certainly an area of ministry about which I am very passionate. The “next generation” is not the future of our church; it is our very present. If we want to be a New Testament church, we should naturally strive toward a cradle-to-grave ministry ideology. Multi-generational discipleship is not just an effective strategy; it is a biblical model. We should want great-grandchildren learning, growing, maturing, and lifting high the name of their Savior in song on the very same pew as their great-grandparents! We must always invest in our senior adults, our middle adults, our young adults, and the “next generation”. Experts in christian education refer to “next generation” ministry, and I’m not certain why that is the best new term to describe everyone of not-yet-majority age, but I think the best explanation is that they are the “next generation” of leaders! I’ll devote some real estate to a discussion of IMPACT student ministry in the future, but in this space, I’ll keep it to children’s ministry.
When we stood up the SONquest brand in 2014, we did so to provide a comprehensive ministry from birth until a kid matriculates into middle school. We knew then that safety was important. Since that time, we have read of more and more churches falling victim to the work of abusers. All of our volunteers are vetted, we have secure facilities, and check-in/check-out procedures. We want parents and guardians to rest assured that their little ones are in good hands here within the First Baptist Church. Thanks to the visionary leadership of Anthony and Marchelle Brown, and their previous leadership experiences within the First Assembly of God (Winston-Salem), we very intentionally created the SONquest brand to raise up godly young people, learning how to pray, study God’s Word, serve one another, give, and worship the Lord together! Indeed God providentially sent the Browns to us at that time to help us take hold of that vision! Though we might debate upon how to define “success”, it’s pretty clear that SONquest has been incredibly successful! It would be foolish though, to think of this success as complete. We are always experimenting, re-evaluating, improving, growing, and working to improve all areas of ministry, including our ministries to children.
For clarity, I’d like to dispel a misconception of what “SONquest” is. It is not “what happens down stairs from 11:00-12:00 on Sundays.” It includes a children’s worship service, yes, but it also includes other components: Sunday School classes, Wednesday evening bible studies, special out-reach events (like Easter Egg Hunts, Trunk-r-Treat events, programs near Christmas, or Vacation Bible School), and ordinary out-reaches into the New Life Center! This includes nursery care for our littlest ones, pre-school groupings, elementary age groupings, and transitioning fourth- and fifth-grade kids into “big church”! It should go without saying, but I’ll write it anyway: this is an exciting vision to take hold of, and we want to do whatever it takes to make all of these things as robust and healthy as possible!
I very much hope that EVERYone in our church family was able to take in our Treat Night / Candle-light Service hybrid event this-past month. Did anyone else count that we had TWENTY-FIVE “next generation” leaders take part in that program!?! It is also worth noting that we did not engage the New Life Center children for that event; we made a conscious decision to specifically include our own children/grandchildren/great-grandchildren. Imagine what it might be this-coming year after we have had months of head-on engagement with the New Life Center. That’s right, in 2022, we are working to re-establish weekly chapel services with the New Life Center children as a way to intentionally draw them – and their families – into our church!
I’ve had a number of conversations with SONquest volunteers in recent months to think through some subtle changes we can make to strengthen several aspects of our ministries. If you are a volunteer, and I haven’t YET pinned you down for a discussion, come see me! We’ve begun to think through curriculum, personnel, and facilities issues, and correctly order the “dominoes” before we knock them over! If you have been sensing that perhaps God is calling you to serve in some way, and have never volunteered with our children’s ministries, please come see me about that too, because we are looking to reinforce our volunteer teams in the days ahead. Please join me in thanking God for what He is doing in our church. Join me in being excited for what the coming months will bring. Join me in prioritizing Spirit-filled, scripture-fed, worship-based discipleship across all areas of our church’s ministries. Join me in praying that God will mold and fashion these little ones into spiritually mature ladies, husbands, grandparents, and citizens that have a burning desire to share the great good news of Jesus’ salvation with a lost world!
We promise to be faithful, and teach them all Your ways;
help us to live before them lives they can only praise;
tho’ they will not remember what we have done this day,
each day we’ll shape their future by all we do and say.