Reflections on the 2014 Assembly
It was a privilege to minister to the children at this year's Baptist Assembly, writes Ed Jones, and our heart is that one day all churches will appreciate the ministry that each child has in their own right
So, there it is, the Baptist Assembly has come and gone for another year! Reflecting back upon this year’s event many thoughts come to mind.
Delivering the ministry amongst the 44 children was once again a real privilege, blessed with a superb team of 15 volunteers who came together for the weekend. During the weekend the Arise Team aim to offer time, space, loads of fun and a chance for the children who come to personally connect with God in new and a fresh way – rather than simply, as some think, a ‘baby-sitting’ service.
As always when Arise approaches working amongst the children who attend the Baptist Assembly, we took the same theme as the adult programme – ‘Higher, Deeper, Wider’. In our experience there is something very powerful in enabling opportunities for children, young people and adults being able to connect on similar passages, themes and topics in terms of what God is saying. With this in mind we considered the three areas alongside the children, they being:
Higher (said in a high-pitched voice)
We wanted to pause if you will and actually consider how awesome God is. We wanted to give the children the space to express themselves, in terms of who God is, what He’s done and how they can thus worship Him accordingly!
The under-fives created a work of art expressing the massiveness of God. The older children amongst other responses were invited to write their own psalms declaring God’s greatness. The diversity, eloquence, honesty and simplicity of what they wrote was humbling.
Deeper (said in a low-pitched voice)
We sought to take the time to delve into what the Bible says about who we are, created by God, loved by Him and how He wants to know each one of us. With so much negativity in society today, we wanted to unpack and help the children to explore the truth of who they are in God. With different spaces available they were able to explore and celebrate who God has created them to be in a variety of ways, building very much upon the fact of how unique and special each one of them is.
Wider (said slowly, whilst pulling your mouth apart at each side)
We wanted to provide an opportunity for the children to consider what it means for them to be living out and sharing the difference Jesus makes, wherever they find ourselves. To aid in this we created a make-shift map of the British Isles (pictured)
We then went round every child and every team member and put a mark (roughly) where they come from. In a few minutes we visible saw where this group then and there gathered in a room in West Bromwich were going to be returning to. It was a powerful moment from which we were able to pray for the children and chat amongst them as to how they can make a difference for Jesus wherever they’re from.
There are of course those frustrations that the Arise Team come away with: comments, opinions, a sense of how the children are only waiting in the wings till their time comes one day in the future. Perhaps too the sense that the adult agenda is the important one, with the children and youth one picking up the pieces behind. Our heart is that one day all churches will appreciate the ministry that each child has in their own right.
More over though, driving away from the Bethel Convention Centre, I had a real sense of the steps that had been taken in our sessions. Steps forward in terms of a greater discover the children have made of who and how awesome God is. Steps forward in terms of how we are each created personally and uniquely by God. Steps forwards in terms of how we are each called to go and live our lives for God wherever we find ourselves.
We continue to pray for the children, that what God did during those two days will be a catalyst to so much more than we can ever hope, dream or imagine!
Ed Jones is a Baptist minister based in Basildon, Essex, and is the executive director of Arise Ministries