By Doug Beacham
The 28th General Conference of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church began with children calling us to worship. In the darkened auditorium, a children’s ensemble began singing “This Little Light of Mine,” and as they sang, they turned on individual lights. Soon a troop of nearly 60 children entered the auditorium singing with them and turning on their lights. They gathered at the front of the
stage before a crowd of 1,500 people, reminding us of the Gospel call that we be lights in this dark world. Then, as a reminder that the Gospel is for the whole world, they sang with the gusto that only children can sing, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” You can view that opening and the entire opening General Conference communion service at http://iphc.org/live/.
The reasons behind starting the General Conference with children were twofold. First, the IPHC Core Value for 2018 is “We Prayerfully Value All Generations.” Bishop Tommy McGhee and the Discipleship Ministries team are diligently preparing the emphasis for this important affirmation of the IPHC. We knew there were adults of all ages present at General Conference and that young adults had much attention placed on them with Youth Quest and the Fine Arts Festival. It was in my heart that the youngest among us will be the ones most responsible to shine the light of the Gospel through the IPHC in the coming decades. Long after we are gone, the Holy Spirit will be filling and empowering them in the service of Jesus.
The second reason was the major emphasis Discipleship Ministries placed upon children’s ministry for the General Conference. For many years, IPHC has provided some form of child care and forms of children’s ministry for the children who accompanied their parents to the General Conference. But this year Discipleship Ministries, as part of their larger focus on Family Ministry, saw an opportunity to make a significant spiritual impact in the lives of children. You should take time to view the amazing amount of resources and focus this ministry offers at http://iphc.org/discipleship/.
Affirming “Family: The People Who Do Life Together,” Discipleship Ministries brought in Children’s Ministry specialist and consultant Dr. Ellen Moore and her team from Ark Church near Houston, Texas. Over 100 children through the fifth grades were given opportunities to learn and grow in Christ. They were involved in the worship and response portion of Dr. Michelle Anthony’s “Church Becoming Family” seminar. Children learned how to better hear the voice of God in their lives. Many of them sensed the Holy Spirit calling them into ministry, including missions service in the IPHC!
Helping Dr. Moore and her team were students from Southwestern Christian University and other young adults from missionary families and various USA conferences. IPHC local church children’s workers participated and learned from Dr. Moore’s team. I am confident we will see the impact of this across the IPHC in the coming months.
I hear a lot of angst about “millennials” and “Generation Z,” and there are reasons for concern. At the same time, the Holy Spirit has found women and men in every generation willing to respond to His call and share the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus continues to build His church!
Our movement can be very grateful for this commitment to children. It is this commitment to reach children before they are overwhelmed with cultural pressures that lays a foundation for biblical knowledge and truth.
I’ve often thought of what I would do differently if I could relive the twelve years I pastored the Franklin Springs Pentecostal Holiness Church. One of the things I would do is place greater emphasis on children’s ministry. The IPHC had then, and has now, outstanding children’s ministers and I would have sought to have brought one of them to the church full-time.
I cannot redo the past, but you can do something about the present! Seek the Lord’s face in prayer on these matters. Speak to Bishop McGhee and the Discipleship Ministries team for ideas and contacts. Talk to your conference Discipleship Ministries director and get ideas and contacts.
There is one thing you cannot do: ignore children’s ministries!