The first part of the session was spent engaging with what ‘inclusion’ means, and osme of the biblical and legal reasons for it. We then moved on to look at the problem of labels – how they can segregate children and create stereotypes; children don’t struggle with this as much as adults – they are very accepting and see that inclusivity benefits all.
They then concluded looking at some general approaches to how we work towards this inclusivity. The session had some interesting points but lacked direction and therefore didn’t really feel helpful. I hope that the resources recommended will develop what the speakers were saying.
– Holiday clubs
– Mid-week groups
– Attempting to reach whole families
They decided to try a ‘fresh expression’ of church. Sunday was still important, but here was another church congregation, not a feeder into the Sunday service. They run once a month for approximately 80 children and adults, including games, crafts, ‘service’, and meal.
There are messy edges to the church – people’s spiritual journey isn’t straightforward. They are irregular in attendance and could go either way. This can be reflected in life and in God – life isn’t straightforward it messes up the simple ABC conversion that we talk so often about; and God has not created an exact or symmetrical world, e.g. the trees don’t match they are one huge mismatch.
An opportunity for all ages to worship together – have to work hard not just to focus on children. A lot of people want to worship but they need to teaching how.
Help people of all ages feel they belong to church and each other. There is no huge community sense these days so it is great to affirm people through knowing their names etc.
Help people have fun and be creative together. Not the be all but a key part of what being a Christian should be. As Christians we can be very boring – let’s be more engaging.
Introduce Jesus through hospitality, friendship, stories and worship. People need the love of someone else first.
Lucy then spent the rest of the session outlining an average session and then looking at some of the key questions to address – both at the start and then a few days down the line. Definitely something that we are spending more time thinking about here in Brentwood.
This session was by Alan Charter and was fantastic. He started off by asking what does it mean to be an older generation sharing with a younger generation? Thoughts included that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, and ‘the life of a child is like a piece of paper on which every passer-by leaves a mark.’ It is the role of the whole community of God’s people: parents, children’s leaders, volunteers, ministers and pastors, and the church family.
We should be raising them up to know God and to live for him. To support this he used the famous verses of Deuteronomy 6; Psalm 78; and Micah 6. As children’s leaders we need to encourage the church in this.
His main points could then be summarised as:
– Be an advocate
– Be people of vision
– Be informed
– Be strategic
He concluded with 4 things to get good at:
1. Your own relationship with Jesus
2. Equipping your own children
3. Making disciples in your church
4. Reaching the children in your community
Concluding thought was this: “The church of God doesn’t have a mission, the mission of God has a church.” A very powerful thought.
He started off by highlighting how 2000 years ago society had a really low view of the child. It was common for them to be sacrificed or forced into sexual practices. The Aramaic for child means servant or salve, so to see the context that Jesus spoke into we need to look at societies where people are marginalised.
Jesus blessed children and was an advocate to the marginalised. He wanted inclusivity in the kingdom of God. The church is to be the advocate for the child in religion and wider society.
Dave then went on to show how Jesus remodelled the father heart for his culture. They saw father as a fierce far off person, but Jesus was keen on tough love – of passionate caring.