04.23.24 | Children's Ministry | by Sara Southard

    I began my position here as Children’s Ministry Director in March of 2022. If you have been around CPC that long, you may have noticed we’ve been in a “season of transition” for just about the entire last 2 years. While unnerving and discouraging at times, it has also been so beautiful to see how much we have grown in that time. New members have joined, Sunday School classrooms are filled, the nursery is busy, and the staff and session have spent a lot of time reflecting on who we are as a church - seeking to follow where God is leading us. I wanted to take the opportunity in this week’s newsletter article to share some of the things God has been doing in our Children's Ministry. I hope it is as encouraging to you as it has been to me!
    We are currently serving an average of 70 children on Sundays and Wednesdays (between nursery and elementary age classes). It takes 25 - 30 adult volunteers at a minimum to serve and care for these children well. We are blessed with a team of regular teachers, subs, and nursery volunteers who show up every week for our kids. They are teaching from God’s Word, facilitating Scripture memory, singing songs, building relationships, and praying with and for your children.
    We have done a lot of work to increase safety. In the last year our Child Protection Policy has been updated, teachers have participated in safety trainings, children have practiced fire and tornado drill procedures, and an updated check-in and check-out policy was implemented to better ensure the safety of our children. Even the playground has been updated this year, with more plans in the works to further increase the safety of that area. 
    We have been working on making the Family Worship Room an even better resource during Sunday morning worship. There is a visual order of worship for non-readers to follow (also located on the back of our wonderful children’s bulletin), books and toys to keep infants and toddlers content while their parents worship, and “Calm Kits” (bags of fidgets and a weighted blanket) for those children who need a little extra help during the service. The nursing mother’s room and the bathroom have been updated recently and are both beautiful and practical spaces. 
    Earlier this month, I attended the Children’s Ministry LEAD (Leading, Equipping, and Discipling) Retreat hosted by the PCA’s Committee on Discipleship Ministries. Men and women (170!) who serve in various capacities in their church’s children's ministries gathered at the beautiful Ridge Haven campus in the mountains of North Carolina to worship, pray, fellowship, and learn. It was a wonderful opportunity to gather new ideas and inspiration, and also to reflect on what our church is currently doing to engage and disciple our children. There is always room to grow - and I came home with lots of ideas and goals to work towards - but I also left feeling very encouraged. There was a lot of discussion about the importance of including children in the worship service, and children’s ministry being about discipleship, not just childcare. Our leadership and church body have always been very dedicated to both of those things, and that is such a blessing.  
    In January of this year, I began the CDM’s Children’s Ministry Certification program. It is a year-long program covering 12 topics, all taught by leaders and pastors from across the denomination. Topics range from theological foundations to child development and learning, to the “nuts and bolts” of ministry such as volunteer training and safety policies. Much like during the conference, there have been opportunities to reflect on things we are already doing here at CPC, as well as set new ideas and goals. I came into this position with lots of experience in early childhood education and grew up in PCA children’s ministry myself, but being in a ministry staff position was new to me. Looking back, I can see things the Lord was doing in my life to prepare me for this role; and looking around now, I see so many ways He has been gracious to CPC and our Children’s Ministry. I am thrilled to be able to participate in this certification program and have the opportunity to learn from people with so much experience and wisdom. I am looking forward to the ways the Lord will continue to grow our Children’s Ministry through this learning. 
    Anticipating that growth will only continue, we are beginning to face some logistical challenges about how to best serve and accommodate the number of children we have been blessed with here. As a staff, we are always looking for ways we can best use current spaces and what facility updates may be necessary in the coming months and years. We will certainly need more volunteers as class sizes grow and existing volunteers take time for a rest or decide to “pass the baton.”
    As I begin my third year on staff, I am grateful for your continued prayers for wisdom, resources, and the furthering of the Kingdom through the Covenant Children’s Ministry.  

    Sara Southard, Children's Ministry Director

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