LIFE at Wheaton Bible Church

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Marking the Milestones on our Children’s Faith Journey

by Vance Frusher

“Do you know who we invited to our baptism?” The two sisters were very excited as they greeted me. “We invited our aunt, our teacher, our neighbor, our grandma, and some friends from school. Altogether we’ve invited 53 people!”

“We hope they’ll all be there so they can hear about how Jesus saved us!” one of the sisters added. “We want to tell the whole world about Him!”

Recently the girls and their parents completed training at home using the materials we provide to families in preparation for children’s baptism. And, just as any parent, grandparent, or guardian would desire, as a result of what they learned, the girls understand the significance of what it means to be baptized—and their enthusiasm about taking this step shines on their faces!

This is the kind of excitement we are privileged to see in children and students who are taking key steps, like baptism, in their faith journeys. Watching that happen time and time again inspired those of us on the Children’s and Student Ministry teams to find ways to engage all our families in actively pursuing important steps of faith as our children are spiritually ready.

As we started mapping out the key steps, it became clear that each event was, in reality, a spiritual milestone in the life of a child, and for that reason, we are pleased to introduce what we call our Milestone Ministry.

We have identified a total of nine milestones—key moments in the lives of children that will serve as “landmarks” as they move along in their personal faith journeys. Each of these milestones is designed to engage not just the child but also the parents. It is our prayer that these events will be celebrated both within our families and within our church body in ways that will reflect the significance of the milestone and the age/stage of the child.

Our Milestone Ministry is a long-term investment in the lives of our children, and it is another manifestation of the central force that drives our mission: to make disciples. In fact, the success of this ministry will ultimately be seen in the next generation, as today’s children and students become parents themselves and lead their own children on this same spiritual journey—beginning the process all over again. This is the flesh-and-blood, real-life translation of “making disciples who make disciples.”

Our vision for the Milestone Ministry is that families would be equipped to raise up disciples in their homes who will then go forward and make disciples in the world around them—in a cycle that, we pray, will be repeated until Christ’s return.

The Milestone Ministry is not designed to stand alone, but rather to be a supporting structure that will fulfill our desire to see this next generation come to love God, grow together, and reach the world.

  • Family Dedication (Birth to Age 1) – We recognize and celebrate the central role of parents in the discipleship process, focusing on building a foundation upon which parents can point their children to Christ.
  • Foundations in Faith (Age 3 to Age 4) –  Parents learn how to bless their children, share the Good News of the Gospel with them, teach them the truth of God’s Word, and how to pray effectively and respond to God.
  • First Bible (1st Grade) – This gift, given in a simple ceremony, highlights the value and central role of God’s Word in the lives of our children at a time when they are learning how to read.
  • Baptism & Communion (3rd & 4th Grade) – Children and parents explore how God foretold His plan of salvation, how Jesus fulfilled it, and our response to what Jesus did for us, including baptism and communion.
  • Stepping Stone (End of 6th Grade) – As their children enter a new stage of life, parents are given an opportunity to publicly affirm and encourage them spiritually—challenging them to continue on in their faith journeys.
  • Local Missions Experience (7th & 8th Grade) –  Junior highers are given opportunity to take the truths they have learned in their younger years and begin to reach out to the world around them by participating in a local missions trip.
  • Global Missions Experience (9th-12th Grade) – Project Serve trips give students the opportuntity to reach out to the world through participation in a national or even international missions experience.
  • Church Membership (At age 18) – Church membership emphasizes the importance and value of the local church—and what the Bible teaches about the role each of us is called to play as part of the Body of Christ.
  • Commissioning of Seniors (Graduating Seniors) – Commissioning of seniors as they graduate—helping them to see themselves as God’s representatives to a world desperately in need of Him.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: As Children’s Pastor at WBC, Vance is committed to seeing the children and families he serves at Wheaton Bible Church growing and maturing in their faith as they move through the Milestones landscape. But he and his wife, Andrea, will also be traveling this path with their own five children: Aidan (11 years), Nathanael (9). Elias (6), Adeline (3), and Maisie (14 months).

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This entry was posted on August 26, 2011 by in Fall 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

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