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I Promise To...

Erica Fast

You also have to evaluate every element in your program and every person on your team and honestly say, "Do we really have these values or not?" Bring in outside observers, give them your values, and ask them, "Can you see these things in our people? Can you see these things in our programs?" As much as you might like to think you've got excellence or a heart for evangelism, sometimes other people don't see what you see. Values need to be under constant evaluation. It has to be obvious that your values drive everything your ministry does.

I think core values are the most powerful tools I've ever seen in church growth and programming. When all those cylinders are firing and your ministry is obviously led by God, nothing can stop the church. Jesus instilled values in his disciples and sent them out, and he was a master at identifying what's most important. Why should the church do anything less? cm

Erica Fast is a former intern for Children's Ministry Magazine.


We dream of changing our world -- one child at a time. We dream of children waking up on Sunday morning excited to go to church. We envision brilliant smiles as kids are welcomed by familiar faces into bright classrooms.

We dream of volunteers so excited about kids that they teach, listen, and serve with laughter. First-time visitors relax as they step through the door.

We dream of a clean, kid- friendly place where thousands of children experience God's creativity through music, art, games, and drama. We envision a safe environment where parents cheerfully leave their children so they can worship without distraction. We dream of a secure environment that builds confidence with parents and protects volunteers.

We dream of babies sleeping peacefully, nursing moms enjoying privacy, and toddlers riding bikes on shaded playgrounds. Preschoolers praise God in rhythm band parades through the halls, while older children send emails to missionaries in foreign lands. In times of prayer and discussion, children make lifelong friendships.

We dream of prayerful adults leading children to Jesus. We dream of whole families growing closer to God and to each other through programs that motivate and prepare.

We dream of changing our world by building a foundation of faith that leads to a life of devotion to Christ and multiplies the kingdom -- one child at a time.

Pat Verbal
Frisco, Texas


Three children's ministry veterans share the core values of their ministries.

Sandy Spooner, director of children's ministry at SunRise United Methodist Church in O'Fallon, Missouri, says, "In our planning of anything, from VBS to Sunday school to summer art camp, I go back to the basics and test everything against our core values. Is this program or project in alignment with what we've said is important? How is this program or project edifying our core values?"

Sandy's children's ministry core values:
Because we believe that God created humans for relationship with him and one another, we value:
• Investing ourselves in connecting people to God and one another.
• Relevant, uplifting, and inspiring worship that connects us with God.
• Prayer as our vital link to the power of God.
• Personal and corporate study of God's Word.
• Stewardship of time and resources.
• Leadership development.

Craig Jutila, children's pastor at Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest, California, defines his ministry's core values with the acronym P.R.A.C.T.I.C.E. -- a custom or habit of doing something.

We value:
• Protecting children with an uncompromising safety process.
• Risking failure through innovation and reinvention of programs.
• Affirming, honoring, and valuing others through authentic leadership.
• Creating an exciting and fun learning environment with excellence.
• Trusting God for the impossible, the unknown, and the unseen.
• Investing in others through open and honest relationships.
• Coaching leaders to realize and fulfill their shape and potential.
• Empowering leaders and children through active ministry opportunities.

Gary Webb, children's ministry director at Northwoods Community Church in Peoria, Illinois, says that values are filters that guide decisions and behaviors. The church's values influence and inform the values of the children's ministry, which follow.

We believe...
• Each and every child is a gift from God.
• It's important to provide a child-centered environment.
• The Bible is God's Word and should be taught and applied in a manner that is relevant to the child.
• Authentic biblical community is to be modeled and emulated by staff and children.
• Children's ministry should be fun, creative, and implemented with excellence.
• Parental partnership is essential to the success of children's ministry.
• Equipping and empowering adult and student staff is necessary to teach children.

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