Two Benefits to Raising Kids in a Church Plant
Before we began church planting in 2016, my wife and I thought about how it would be for our kids.
Even though we set out from the start to have a safe and vibrant children’s ministry at Good Shepherd, we knew our kids wouldn’t have a large group of kids their ages and there wouldn’t be a host of programs available.
But a pastoral mentor of mine, who planted a church over 25 years ago told me that in his experience, he couldn’t think of a better place to raise kids than in a church plant.
At the time, I had a sense of what he meant, but I can now say that after almost three years of doing this, I firmly believe it. We have observed two unique benefits to raising our kids in a church plant.
First, it provides a unique opportunity for them to join in the mission of the church, even at a very young age.
GS has been blessed to have families with kids from the start, with other families coming along at different points along the way.
Because there is a lot to do each Sunday morning before and after the worship service, we actively get the kids involved. Even young kids can jump in and do a host of things at a church plant - things that are unnecessary in older, more established churches.
Kids at GS don’t just arrive to consume the experience - they help to create it. Just by their very presence they help as they lend a hand, lift up their voices in worship, share their smiles and their enthusiasm, and as they welcome other kids.
I often tell everyone at GS - even the children - that they are church planters, and it is not just rhetoric. I mean it when I say that even though “church planter” is part of my job title, one person cannot plant a church.
It takes a host of people - adults and kids - using their gifts and abilities just as God intended and demonstrates in the Scriptures. Anyone looking for a church offering lots of children’s programs is looking for ways their kids can grow in maturity as Christians and as individuals.
Simply put, the church plant itself is an outstanding “program” for the maturity of a child.
Don’t get me wrong, we offer Sunday morning Bible study (aka Sunday School) for our kids, as well as nursery/childcare for the younger ones, and we have various fun events throughout the year.
But the best program we can offer a parent is the opportunity for their child to leave his or her own fingerprints on a growing ministry, to be able to say not just that he or she chipped in, but that he or she was and is essential to the work of ministry.
Then, as the church grows, that little girl or boy takes special joy in what God has done, which brings me to a second benefit...
The children get to observe the growth of the church at a unique stage.
Part of having a strong faith is being convinced that God is still at work in the world, doing great things and bringing more people into the life-giving community of His local church.
Yes, this happens at churches of all sizes and ages, but the awareness of it is heightened in the early stages of a church. For instance, many of the kids at GS have seen our church progress from six months of meeting in my house and then an office building every other Sunday evening, to launching our Sunday morning worship service in an elementary school, to expanding our programs and setting up more chairs because of the growth.
Sure, not everyone gets that opportunity, but if the opportunity is there for your children, why wouldn’t you want to give it to them?
This makes sense in light of what we see taking place in the New Testament after the ascension of Jesus to heaven.
What Jesus started was not just a general movement of individual repentance and faith (although that is essential). He started a church planting movement.
The letters of His apostles were not initially written to Christians reading their Bibles in solitary places (although it’s great to read your Bible in a solitary place). They wrote those letters to church plants, to help establish those churches and outline what was necessary to start more.
So, with church planting being so central to the mission of God in the Scriptures, it’s no surprise that God would have special benefits for our children, just as He does for the adults.
Stacey Severance is the church planting pastor of Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Florence, SC. He graduated from Francis Marion University and completed his Masters of Divinity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte. He and his wife, Lia, have four daughters. Stacey enjoys woodworking and watching college football.