"Train up a child in the way he should go when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6)
This is a verse typically reserved for parenting, using it at child baptisms and parenting courses, as encouragement for new parents or even on cards as a Hallmark-type congratulation for parents on the arrival of a new baby.
However, it is very applicable to all people who are involved in one way or another with children's or youth ministry. Sunday school teachers, youth leaders and pastors, all have a role to play in the training of a child. All should work together as a team.
This truth was highlighted recently at the Children's and Youth Ministry Conference hosted by Mukhanyo's Johannesburg Campus on Saturday 5 May. More than fifty leaders gathered at the Impact Community Church in Edenvale to be equipped in this area.
Hayley Walker from Protective Behaviours South Africa (Keeping Our Children and Youth Safe) emphasised that all of us have responsibilities in this regard. And many churches and leaders have a lot to learn and put into practice.
Johannesburg campus lecturer and pastor at Crystal Park Baptist Church, Gideon Mpeni (Multi-Cultural Children's and Youth Ministry) unpacked Acts 17:1-9 and Paul's method in witnessing to the people of Athens. When it comes to multi-cultural ministry, the key thing to remember is that there is no difference between skin colour, cultures or socio-economic factors when it comes to the real need – that of salvation. Though environments and traditions may vary, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". We need to understand the context in which we are ministering and then preach the Gospel in a way that will make the most effective impact.
Pastor Giel Vermeulen of Impact Christian Church (Teaching Children and Youth Effectively) explained the different learning styles that children have and gave some basic guidelines on how to minister to all of them within our various ministries without losing sight of the Gospel.
Pastor Michael Lear of Springs Baptist Church (Choosing or Writing Sound Biblical Curriculum) used examples from his own experience and writing, and made the very important statement, "The Bible is your curriculum". If only churches would remember this and design and choose the material they use accordingly, then we will be effectively training our children in the way they should go.
Given the positive ratings and success, Mukhanyo hopes to be able to make this conference an annual event. Pray with us that we all will grow in our ability and faithfulness in child evangelism.