Children’s Ministries exist in our churches throughout the Pennsylvania Conference with the mission of leading children to the knowledge of God’s love for them. Our desire is that children are positively overwhelmed with the awesomeness of God’s love and that they are compelled by the Holy Spirit to wisely surrender their hearts, souls, and minds to Jesus while they are still young.
Children’s Ministries programs, when consistently, properly, and faithfully administered, are the hub of church life for families with children. Many parents make decisions about whether or where to attend church based on the programs that are offered for children. Children who take part in programming specifically for children (such as Adventurers, Pathfinders, Sabbath School, Vacation Bible Xperience, and Kids’ Clubs) and who serve in the church, both up front and behind the scenes, are more likely to become and remain active adult church leaders.
Pennsylvania Conference Children’s Ministries’ goal is to provide information and instruction that will equip church members to train children to be disciples of Jesus who will in turn make disciples of their friends and family.
Research from Barna Group shows that the moral foundations of a person are generally in place by age nine. Children find meaning and value and make a personal response to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus by age eighteen – with the majority making this decision by the age of 12. Jesus Himself was about His Father’s business by age 12. Further, research shows that most people make up their minds about spiritual matters by age 13. After 13, the focus shifts to confirm their existing beliefs rather than forming new ones. It is vital that we connect our children with our Savior while they are still young and as we see the signs of Jesus’ second coming approaching.
The Pennsylvania Conference is committed to Children’s Ministries and the protection of children in all aspects of ministry in churches and schools.
Safeguarding Children—Church should be a safe place to bring our children. Everyone involved with children who are minors must meet all Church and state legal standards and requirements, before they are cleared to volunteer with our kids. In order to safeguard our children, churches are encouraged to adopt policies that would provide a measure of safety and protection for children. Such policies should include the following:
a. Two-Adult Policy—Have two adults present in children’s classrooms or activities.
b. Open Door—Discourage private or one-on-one contact and encourage an open-door policy in all situations. Where an open door is not possible, a second adult should be present at all times.
c. Volunteer Screening—Complete all state mandated volunteer background clearances, before a volunteer is cleared to work with kids.
d. Six-Month Policy—Require a waiting period of six months for newly baptized or transferring members who have indicated a willingness to work with children.
e. Training—Provide regular training for teachers and volunteers to help them understand and protect children and how to nurture their faith.
Local church leaders should consult with the conference in order to ascertain conference procedures and requirements, including local legal requirements for individuals working with children.
Additional resources are available from Adventist Risk Management at www.adventistrisk.org.
Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, 18th Edition, pages 168-169