Children Are Significant!

Posted in OLD The Archive

World Class international speakers led the delegates over three days with transformational teaching on the theological and practical significance of children. After each session, the over 100 delegates, comprising a contingent of TWR missionaries, were left speechless with much to think about.

The conference, titled "Understanding the 4/14 window: Challenging the church to rethink its position on children's ministry", drew great excitement and enthusiastic discussion over the three-day period.

Guest Speakers on Media
For TWR, the key was how to channel these powerful concepts and ideas into media ministry. The three international speakers were eager to contribute some food for thought.

Some thoughts from Dr. Brewster, General Secretary of the Holistic Child Development Global Alliance

Dr. Brewster is passionate to see children in Africa be "challenged" and "channelled" through media ministry. What he means is that radio should be a "door opener" that can help young people find ways to get involved by engaging the world with their creativity, energy and resourcefulness. Sharing from the story of David's anointing by Samuel, Dr. Brewster challenges us to "See the king in the boy, and the queen in the girl. The tendency is to criticise, the tendency is to be pessimistic, the tendency is to be discouraged about what we see around us but we must take the opposite view - that there's potential there!" Children will surprise us.

Some thoughts from Dr. Sweeney, Founder and Director of the North West Centre for Play Therapy Studies

Dr. Sweeney's burden is to see "media that can promote relational experiences." So, for example, he explains that a radio drama which spurs a child on to speak to their grandmother or somebody else about what they've heard is the ultimate goal. In that sense, he affirms that "It's more than just information." Not just information, but relation. However, he also affirms the need for information directed to the parents. Three quarters of Dr. Sweeney's client referrals are for things that can easily be rectified through simple information being taught to parents about the parent-child relationship. So media can play a powerful role by simply directing parents to see the need to "invest" more in their kids.

Some thoughts from Dr. White, Chair of the Child Theology Movement

Dr. White would like to see Christian media playing a significant role in getting people to think deeply about children's theology, and consequently consider the "radical implications for church and mission." His desire is not just for people to think, but for that thought to translate into action. So Christian media need not only teach child theology, "something which has somehow been missing and invisible in so much of theology and church," but also to showcase and highlight different working models of practical child theology in Africa to spur it on not just as a collection of projects, but as a transformational movement.

To sum it up, TWR has been given much to think about and consider.

Delegate Impact

When asked what the most significant impact the conference had made on them one delegate said, "Churches are starting to recognise that there needs to be a mind-set change from 'ministry to children' to 'ministry by children' and all that entails - equipping children and creating platforms for them to reach their potential that the Lord has placed in them." This was certainly a strong message at the conference - children are not to be side-lined and baby-sat, but to be equipped as a part of the Body of Christ to minister to the Body of Christ.

Another delegate mentioned the same thing: " ... the importance of children and yet how little emphasis we place on them. I think often children can just be forgotten in the church yet they are capable of so many things ... the importance Jesus placed on children and how we as the church should realise that most people are saved during that critical window and should focus a lot of our attention on bringing up those children to know God."

Another delegate, when asked what they were going to do first after the conference said, "Go back to the churches that I am connected with and ... encourage them to take just one child and become responsible for one vulnerable child." Another message at of the conference was the need to not focus on the multitudes, but to focus on the 'one.' When we focus on the multitudes, we feel overwhelmed and the 'one' in our midst misses out.

On 13 May 2011, over 100 delegates left the conference, energised, resourced and determined to make a transformational impact on and through children for the Kingdom of God. TWR delegates left with much food for thought to inform programming for and by children in Africa.

Please visit http://4to14window.com/ and http://www.childtheology.org/new/ to find out more, or http://www.satsonline.org/content/conference-notes-0 to obtain notes from the 4-14 conference. Also visit {http://www.twrafrica.org/projects/children.asp} to see some of the children's projects TWR is involved with in Africa.

Published: 18 June 2011