I want to continue our series of posts about What Matters Now in Children’s Ministry with a few posts about the answers that really resonated with me.  Many weeks ago when I started asking people to participate in this effort, the first person to respond was Dr. Brianne Friberg.   I have had the privilege of being friends with the Friberg’s for several years and while many of you have not heard of Dr. Friberg, she is probably the most brilliant person I have ever met.  Dr. Friberg’s one-word answer to the question, “What Matters Now in Children’s Ministry” was empowerment.

Dr. Friberg reflects, “We need leaders who work under an empowerment model that is strength-based and family-centered.  What does that mean?  First, our ministries need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Second, and more practically speaking, we need leaders who work to build on the strengths of children, families, and volunteers to promote spiritual growth and development for everyone involved.  Children’s ministry provides an opportunity for children to develop their skills within a safe context and use them in ways that serve the church (I Timothy 4:12).  It also allows for relationship development that has implications for socio-emotional and spiritual growth.  Further, this model helps leaders to partner with parents, building on family strengths to enable and equip them to be spiritual leaders at home.  Finally, we can empower volunteers, plugging them into areas that are congruent with their passions and abilities.  This approach increases commitment, consistency, and leadership potential.  I believe that when we are empowered by the Holy Spirit and a commitment to build on the strengths of children, families, and volunteers, the impact of children’s ministry programs will be amplified in both present and eternal outcomes.”

The reason why this answer resonates with me is that it bridges spiritual formation and child development.  So often we operate without the proper perspective on how children learn and develop. When that perspective is aligned, it liberates the partnership between church and home.  Partnership between church and home is not just Biblically mandated, it is developmentally supported.