One of the most important things a children’s ministry can do is be a part of a family’s everyday life. Moving outside of Sunday. This tells the child and the family, that they are important, they matter, and God is a part of their lives beyond church.
Helping families develop rituals will help them find ways to incorporate their faith into the special moments. Most families love to find ways to celebrate and include their faith, but are unsure what to do.
It is, also, important for the church to acknowledge and celebrate the milestones in a child’s life. This says, you are a part of our family. God loves you. We love you. We are here for you.
An important milestone in a child’s life that often gets overlooked is a child’s move from Elementary School to Middle School. Children have mixed feelings about this move. Along with excitement, there is fear of the unknown, stress of the what ifs, and grief over what is being left behind. Parents are feeling these mixed feelings too. Their child is growing and moving into the teenage part of life. The obstacles and dangers are real. The expectations parents place on themselves as they try to include so much in their child’s life can cause stress and anxiety.
One of the things I do to celebrate and help is to hold a Fifth Grade Breakfast. We invite the parents and their fifth grade child. Our fourth graders serve and act as hosts. We do this at the end of fifth grade, usually the weekend before school ends.
We start off with prayer and then enjoy a buffet breakfast. Once everyone has eaten about ¾ of their plate, we start the program. After thanking the parents for sharing their child with me, I tell the children how much it has meant to me to be a part of their lives. I remind them of their spiritual journey and there are many steps left. I remind them how faith can help them and how much they are loved by their church family.
I give the parents a developmental chart which includes what to expect for the next six years including spiritual, physical, emotional, mental, and other aspects growth. Similar to the developmental sheet parents got when their child was an infant, this helps parents to know what is coming and how to help or step back while their child moves through this last part of childhood.
Our Youth Leaders, then, talk about youth group and youth formation. Emphasizing the importance of this in their developmental journey. We offer support of the parents, as well as, the teen.
After questions and answers, we ask each of the parents to say how their child was a blessing to them. It is very beautiful to hear and the children are very moved.
We end it with a blessing and a promise that I will always be there for them and this church will always be their home.
Because COVID-19 physical distancing, we could not do our fifth grade breakfast. We mailed each family a developmental chart and mailed a card to each child telling them how much we love them. If it is possible, we will hold the fifth grade breakfast at the start of the program year before their sixth grade year starts. If not, the contact is important.