Saturday, October 5, 2013
Pastorates manuscript #13
What about children?
In our experience at Central, by far the biggest challenge we’ve experienced is how to incorporate children into the life of the pastorate. We should note at the start that pastorates are inherently good for families. Children see their parents taking time to nurture their relationship with Jesus and to spend time in his word and with his people. As much as possible, then, children should be included into the pastorate life. As noted above, there may come a time during the evening when children have their own activities or duck out after some time in worship and the word. In other pastorates, parents choose to keep their children in the pastorate throughout the evening. With younger children, parents will usually take turns overseeing the children in a separate area of the house.
Note that the goal of the pastorate is not to have a quiet, solemn church service-type atmosphere. There is ample room for children to be involved and even noisy. More experienced parents can mentor younger parents who may feel self conscious about the activity level of their children, and if a child needs special attention a pastorate usually includes several adoptive grandparents or aunts and uncles.
Personally, over time one of the greatest gifts I’ve seen in pastorate life is the impact it has on children. Children who grow up in this kind of Christ-centered community are shaped by it. They recognize that being part of a relational community that prays and worships and studies God’s word together is just normal. As they grow older, they will seek out this kind of community, not settling for a “normal” life as the world defines it -- a life that is barren of significant spiritual relationships. Also, children grow with a sense of kingdom possibilities and a heart for the mission of God in the world. They learn along the way as naturally as breathing that God wants to bring healing, to speak light into the darkness, and that they may well be called to have missional adventures in the name of Jesus! These things grow naturally out of the life of the pastorate.