Children’s Ministry: Teaching Biblical Truth in the Context of a Covenant Community

by Pat Canavan June 30, 2016


You hear a lot about mission and vision statements in the corporate world, and if someone were to ask me to write a mission statement of our children’s ministry the above title would be a good start.

You also hear about succession plans, and I believe every church should have an ongoing, built-in succession plan—it’s called children’s ministry. Churches that prioritize adults think short-term. They are like a baseball team trying to win a championship in the current year by buying veteran players and hoping they perform. A wiser approach is the long-term effort of preparing a rising generation so that the fruit will last longer. Charles Spurgeon once said he strived to see conversions among children because, unlike adults, they would live their whole lives for Christ.

The above mission statement mentions three things: truth, the covenant, and fruit—in other words, the content, the environment, and the outcome.

The transmission of the gospel and biblical truth to those literally right under our nose provides the foundation of our ministry to children at Tenth. Through the reformed curriculum we use in our Bible School, the robust memory work program starting at age 3, and the catechism questions and answers children learn in our evening catechism club, our goal is to make Christ and the salvation he offers known to each child. It is not very entertaining, but it is done in a cheerful, loving environment that children enjoy.

We want each child under our care to have their names written in the Book of Life and be fit for heaven.

Though most of the children that attend Tenth Bible School and other programs are covenant children, the desire to teach the great doctrines of our faith is just as fervent to those children who visit us, too. We want each child under our care to have their names written in the Book of Life and be fit for heaven.

But there is more than just instruction here. There is also the covenant community here at Tenth, which is expressed in a number of ways as we care for our younger members.  First, we all take a covenant vow at each baptism as we promise to support parents in raising each child. Then the nursery and Bible School also demonstrate the covenant because the caretakers and teachers encompass all stages of adult life—college age students and empty nesters participate in the care and teaching our children receive. It is definitely not a parent-only ministry! The best illustration of this was a recent meeting involving eight adults drawn from various segments of our children’s ministry to discuss the best care for one child—a special needs child in our congregation. Tenth is a large church but every child is important. Tenth’s children are clearly not just numbers on a roll or names on a class roster.

Finally, the measure of any children’s ministry is its fruit. I have been involved long enough to see this fruit. There are seven teachers on our Bible School faculty who were raised at Tenth with four others currently serving as Maranatha leaders. In addition, several others raised here now serve as officers of the church. We have also sent many of our youth on mission trips. It is not only a great encouragement to observe this fruit, but also to witness the next generation serve the generation to follow.

Ministries like this do not just happen. There is much prayer, planning, and practice at every level of care and instruction that occurs in order for everything to work well. God has blessed this work over 187 years and the increase in numbers is only part of the story.

In closing, please pray for much fruit in the years ahead as the great truths of scripture continue to be taught in a loving environment. And please offer your help! It takes over 80 adults a week, for all our children’s programs to run smoothly. We need some people who can teach every week, and we need many who can be part of a 4–6 week rotation. If you are interested, I would like to speak with you. You can email me at

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