The 1995 General Conference session at Ultrecht marks a watershed for children’s ministries. On July 4, 1995, A. H. Tolhurst proposed a motion from the floor that the Children’s Ministries Department be established as a separate ministry, a separate department of the church. It was seconded and voted, and children’s ministries became the newest department of the church, the only department in history to be suggested from the floor at a session.
In the year 2000 a new children’s curriculum was written for the world church. This was a product of creative thinking and evaluation by many people from all the world divisions. Known as GraceLink, this new curriculum stresses four core aspects of the Christian faith:
- Grace, God’s part in the plan of salvation;
- Worship, our response to God’s saving initiative;
- Community, how God’s grace compels us to live together in harmony as the family of God; and
- Service, our response to God’s love as we reach out in soul winning and service to others.
Today, Children’s Ministries has become a worldwide ministry with every division in the world field having a director to oversee the work of spiritual nurturing and training for children.
The Bible makes it very clear that children are very special to God. If you examine what the Bible says about children, you will notice a great number of perspectives:
- Children are a gift from God. He gives children to parents as special sign of love and personal fulfillment (Deut. 7:13; Ps. 127:3).
- Children are desirable. From creation, God has instructed us to bear children (Gen. 9:7; Deut. 6:3).
- Children bring joy and blessings to adults. God provides many benefits to parents through parenting their children (Num 5:28; Deut. 28:4,11).
- Children need to be taught how to develop a relation with God. One of our greatest challenges is to pass on our beliefs and understanding of God to our children (Exod. 12:26,37; Deut. 6:1-7; Prov. 22:6).
- Children are so valuable to God that He commands us to protect them. Parent are to ensure the spiritual and physical security of their children (1 Sam. 20:42; Ezra 8:21).
- God loves children enough to ensure that they receive discipline. (Prov. 3:11-12; 13:24; 19:18; Eph. 6:4).
- God enjoys the nature and personality of children and asks adults to learn from them. Scripture identifies attributes such as sincerity, humility, simplicity, and trusting as qualities found in children, and God treasures these characteristics (Matt. 18:3; 19:14; Phil. 2:15).
The mission of the Children’s Ministries Department is to nurture children into a loving, serving relationship with Jesus.
We seek to fulfill our mission by developing the following:
- Grace-oriented ministries, in which all children will experience the unconditional love of Jesus, find assurance of acceptance and forgiveness, and make a commitment to Him and develop their faith.
- Inclusive ministries, in which the volunteers who minister and the children to whom they minister will be valued and involved regardless of race, color, language, gender, age, abilities, or socio-economic circumstances;
- Leadership ministries, in which volunteers are empowered, trained, and equipped for effective ministry to children;
- Service-oriented ministries, in which children are given opportunities for hands-on service to people in their neighborhood or city, which could establish a pattern of outreach to others that may well continue through life;
- Cooperative ministries, which involve working in partnership with other ministries, such as family ministries, Sabbath School, and stewardship, to support and help parents develop the faith of their children.
- Safe ministries, whereby our churches adopt safeguards to protect children from physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse; to choose volunteers with high spiritual and moral backgrounds; and to minimize the church’s liability; and,
- Evangelistic ministries, in which children who are not enfolded in the church family will be introduced to the love of Jesus through outreach-programs such as: Vacation Bible Schools, children’s branch Sabbath Schools, Neighborhood Bible Clubs, and Story Hours.