Children's Ministry, Faith Nurture
How the Building Blocks of Faith Can Transform Your Children’s Ministry
July 28, 2021
Updated August 27, 2021
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This article is part of The Building Blocks of Faith Toolkit—a collection of resources for strengthening faith formation in your congregation and at home, brought to you by Faith Formation Ministries.
The Building Blocks of Faith describe four spiritual needs that are met in Christ:
the need to belong
the need to know and understand
the need to have hope
the need to be called and equipped
People of all ages have these needs, and it’s the privilege of children’s ministry leaders to help meet those needs in the youngest among us. Here are some ideas for helping faith thrive through your church’s children’s ministry.
Invite your children’s ministry staff and volunteers to learn about the Building Blocks of Faith. You can incorporate a Building Blocks overview into your regular yearly training, invite one of Faith Formation Ministries’ regional catalyzers to introduce the Building Blocks to your team, or participate in one of FFM’s learning cohorts. We’re also working on creating an online learning module that teams and individuals can use.
However you introduce the Building Blocks, share how leaders can help children belong, know and understand, have hope, and identify their calling.
Children need advocates in the church who will not only point out their value and importance but also actively work toward building a faith community that embraces them as full participants.
It is important for an advocate to ask the question “What about the children?” This often helps refocus conversations about church budgets, buildings, worship, and other issues that will include children’s needs in the planning instead of relegating them to an afterthought.
That question can also invite Building Blocks-related questions, such as
How do children experience belonging in our church?
Does our budget represent that children are being equipped in their calling?
What might we need to change so that children have the opportunity to utilize their gifts and abilities?
Gather a small group of children’s ministry leaders and parents to assess your children’s ministry through the lens of the Building Blocks. Here are some questions to help you get started.
How are our children experiencing that they belong to God and to God’s family, the church?
How do our staff and volunteers build relationships with kids so that they feel they belong?
How does the broader church community make a place for children?
How does the curriculum we are using foster relationships and help kids know that they belong?
How do the illustrations in our curriculum or the pictures on our walls and in our story Bibles foster the idea that ALL children belong in God’s family?
What do we want our children’s ministry to help children know and understand about God and about God’s story?
How do children come to know that God made them and loves them?
Do they understand the broad arc of God’s salvation story?
Are they becoming more familiar with individual Bible stories and passages?
Can children articulate how God’s story relates to their own story?
How is our children’s ministry filling children with hope in the God who keeps promises?
Are we communicating God’s promises to children?
How do we celebrate with children the promises that God has kept?
Are we telling our own faith stories to children?
Are children hearing stories of hope from generations that came before them?
How are we helping children recognize God’s call in their lives, and how are we equipping them to answer that call?
Are we portraying the Christian life as exciting, creative, and meaningful? How?
What stories are we sharing with children to illustrate the various ways God calls people to use their gifts and talents?
Do we provide opportunities for children of all ages to participate in worship and service?
After you have assessed your ministry through the lens of the Building Blocks, brainstorm how to implement ideas that encourage faith to thrive in the children of your church.
Make seasonal connections with the Building Blocks themes. Check out these four Advent learning stations for children from Sonlight CRC in Lynden, Washington.
Learn how Sonlight CRC created Building Block experiences for children and dreamed of “Building Block Sundays.”
Check out Mentoring a Child’s Faith for tips on how to use the Building Blocks in conversation with children who desire to publicly profess their faith.
Use music to share the basic ideas of the Building Blocks. Here are some music suggestions:
“Even Before I Was Born, You Saw Me” from Down to Earth by Fischy Music
“God Behind” on Down to Earth by Fischy Music
“Don’t Be Afraid,” Lift Up Your Hearts #429
“He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” Add a stanza using the names of the children in your group, such as “He’s got Sarah and Zeke in his hands. . . .”
Read stories that relate to the themes of the Building Blocks of Faith. Here are some storybook suggestions:
Guess How Much I Love You, written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram, is a classic children’s book that reminds children how much they are loved.
You Are Special, written by Max Lucado and illustrated by Sergio Martinez, is a classic children’s book that reminds children they are loved by God.
Knowing and Understanding
The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross (Tales That Tell the Truth), written by Carl Laferton and illustrated by Catalina Echeverri, shares the grand storyline of the Bible from the garden of Eden to Christ’s redeeming work on the cross. Suitable for ages 4 and up.
The Jesus Storybook Bible, written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago, tells about Jesus at the center of the story of salvation.
Little Mole Finds Hope, written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Sally Garland, shares the story that hope can be found even in the darkest of places. Suitable for ages 5 and up.
Rain before Rainbows, written by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and illustrated by David Litchfield, is based on Psalm 30:5 and is about finding hope no matter how dark it is.
Being Called and Equipped
When God Made You, written by Matthew Paul Turner and illustrated by David Catrow, encourages children to discover the gifts God has given them and how they fit into God’s plan. Suitable for ages 3-7.
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood, written by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell and illustrated by Rafael López, is a story about how a young girl transformed her community through art. A Spanish-language edition is also available.
Communicate with children, parents, and your congregation how children belong to God and God’s family by including pew cards in your sanctuary. This blog post describes the different ways you can clearly communicate that children are welcome and belong in your church.
Children’s ministry cannot be done well in isolation. How might you incorporate intergenerational experiences or interministry experiences based on the Building Blocks into your planning?
The Building Blocks of Faith provide an excellent framework on which to build all of your church’s faith formation efforts.
For conversations about ministry with children, contact Mimi Larson at [email protected].
For conversations about ministry with youth and emerging adults, contact Ron deVries at [email protected].
For more family ideas, check out our Parent/Family Faith Formation page.
Want to know more? We’ve gathered a wealth of resources in our free Building Blocks of Faith toolkit.
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