April 14, 2022

Leaders to Help Church Children ‘Fall in Love with God Forever’

In Estonia, training event teaches emotional intelligence, the teen brain, and spirituality.

Diana Sommer and Mervi Kalmus, Trans-European Division, and Adventist Review

What is required to help children “fall in love with God forever”?

As children’s ministry leaders from across the Estonian Conference of the Adventist Church met together at the Estonian Children’s Ministry Seminar (ECMS), they were looking not only to be inspired but also to discover a wholistic understanding of how to help children develop a sustainable faith.

Held April 1-3, 2022, in Simisalu, Estonia, the training, led by Trans-European Division (TED) family, women, and children’s ministries director Karen Holford, covered a variety of topics, including emotional intelligence, understanding the teenage brain, and creative spirituality. 

“My main objective is to help people think about the simple things that they can do to help children grow spiritually,” Holford said. “I don’t want to put a heavy burden on people’s shoulders; instead, I want to show them how easy it is to transform children’s lives and help them to fall in love with God forever.”

Afraid that she might forget some of the ideas shared, Külli Keel, mother of three young children, decided to write down a long to-do list for herself. “One important idea I am taking away is to try and strengthen my and my kids’ positive character traits,” Keel said.

Eve Nõmm found it “impossible not to get fired up!” Nõmm said she appreciated that the focus of the seminar was always on God. “It was like a mixture of family therapy and a spiritual ‘hackathon,’ ” she said, referencing the events that bring people together to solve problems or improve a product.

Estonian Conference children’s ministry director Aiki Pärna said she waited impatiently for the pandemic health restrictions to be lifted so the seminar could take place. Thrilled that at last the leaders could meet again, she challenged the twenty-five attendees, “Take three ideas away and put them into practice in your home church, and this weekend will have been a success!” she said.

Three Ideas

Here is a sample of three ideas to take home, taken from the training event:

  1. At bedtime, ask children where they saw God working today. Invite them to mention three things they want to thank God for, or three things that went well. Share with them something positive you noticed about them during the day, and ensure that they fall asleep feeling loved, happy, blessed, and peaceful.
  2. Learn the twenty-four different character traits that are valued in every culture. Develop your characters together as a family, and be aware of when your child shows one of these strengths. Congratulate and affirm their good choices! Find fun and creative ways to nurture these strengths in your child’s life (especially kindness).
  3. Make Sabbaths a delight in your home and at church! Involve children creatively in your church services, and choose Sabbath activities they will enjoy. The more delightful and enjoyable Sabbaths are for our children, the more likely it is that they will choose to follow Jesus.

The original version of this story was posted on the Trans-European Division news site.