Children have a Role in the Church - Today, not just the Future
Children at the Baptist Assembly went back in time to explore what church is all about - then zoomed to the future to reflect on what it might look like in the years to come
'We wanted to ask: What is the church? Where does it come from? And what part can we play in it?' explained the Revd Ed Jones, the executive director of Arise Ministries, who led the children's work.
'It was all about affirming that they have a role.'
There were sessions throughout Assembly, and the centerpiece of each was a time-machine.
One day they went back to 586 BC, and the destruction of the temple. It helped to explain that the church is not the building: it's the people, and a promise to them, said Ed.
There was also a trip to the beginning of Acts, which highlighted every member ministry, and the coming of God's spirit.
There was also a look into the future, when the children were asked to consider what role they might play. Alongside time for discussion and questions, there were lots of challenges and games.
The looking ahead, as well as reflecting on the past, played neatly with Assembly's Beyond 400 theme and the discussions about the future of the Baptist Union of Great Britain.
And like last year - when there was an all age service - there were opportunities for the children to play a role in the wider Assembly. This year was achieved via short video clips, which were relayed during the Futures session on Sunday afternoon.
The idea was to visually demonstrate that children have a definite role in church today, not just the future, said Ed. And there was feedback that some were beginning to grasp that.
'We were really encouraged,' he said. 'A number of parents were planning to leave early, but the children didn't want to miss anything, so they ended up staying.
'We also heard from the discussions they'd had with parents that it would help them connect better with their local church. One said their child had
struggled in the first year after moving, but now they know they are part of the church.
'It's so important that we invest in our children - not simply as the church of tomorrow, but recognising they have a role today.'
Arise Ministries is a partnership between Girls' Brigade and Viz-aViz Ministries.