Faith Milestones Plan
The Family Ministry of Neelsville Presbyterian Church has identified significant stages of a one’s spiritual journey shepherded by their parents in partnership with our church family. For these milestones, parents, children, and youth will have opportunities to participate in educational events, family celebrations and special times during worship.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Celebrating Life & Baptism
As parents prepare for the arrival of their baby, whether during pregnancy or the process of adoption, our church family would like to support you with prayer and meeting your needs. For baptism, parents will meet with the pastor prior to this special event to discuss the significance of inviting a child into the family of faith. Contact the office staff to schedule at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Bible teaches that baptism is a covenant sign and seal for believers and their children. It signifies that a person is a part of the community of the church. Parents bring their infant children to be baptized in obedience to God, trusting that one day the child will respond to God’s promises in faith. Infant baptism expresses that it is God who chooses us for faith, discipleship, and salvation; without God, we have no power to claim these things for ourselves. Baptism does not cause or guarantee salvation, but it is a covenantal sign where the Spirit works to remind the family and the church of our union with Christ. Additionally, we affirm that people come to faith at different stages in life, and recognize the baptism of older believers as an equally valid expression of the sacrament. Baptism is not only a commitment of the parents, but also the whole congregation to support the one being baptized into God’s family to fulfill the calling God has on his or her life (1 John 3:1, Mark 10:14).
Children are welcomed to preschool Sunday School as they turn 3 years old, and parents attend the annual parenting meeting to learn about our Sunday school curriculum and resources to help parents disciple their children and youth at home. In Sunday School, children learn who God is by the way He has worked in His people through the Bible (referred to as The Big God Story in our Sunday School curriculum). Children begin every Fall in Genesis and end in Revelation by the end of summer so that by the end of preschool and elementary school, they’ve learned the full story of God’s redemptive plan several times. Parents can use the weekly at home guides that accompany each lesson so children and parents can dive deeper together. In the later years of elementary school, children learn and memorize truths of God through “The Big City Catechism” in Sunday School reinforced at home with song and devotionals with the whole family. http://newcitycatechism.com/new-city-catechism/#1
Sunday School, small groups, and Bible studies help children, youth, and adults to learn who God is through the Bible and to grow in their faith with the support of the church family and in partnership with parents. Sunday School attendance is a foundational habit of faithful families who are also encouraged to learn at home as well. As the primary disciplers, parents are responsible for teaching their children how to be lifelong disciples. (Colossians 3:16)
Children and youth of any age are encouraged to participate in our worship services. Attending worship with parents helps children to connect with the whole body of believers in the church. Children’s worship bags are available to borrow that contain biblically focused coloring sheets and books. During our 11:00 am worship service, there are special children’s messages to help children understand the passage being preached. Fourth and Fifth Graders can attend acolyte training and begin serving in this role and have the opportunity to lead worship in a variety of ways like helping with ushering, reading liturgy, and singing on the praise team and choir. Youth Sunday occurs toward the end of the school year. During this special service, all elements of the worship service are youth-led.
By learning about and experiencing worship, young children grow to become full participants in the faith community. This helps children see their place in God’s intergenerational family. They learn that worship is a continuous response to God’s grace. (Psalm 122:1)
Responding to God’s Call of Salvation
All are invited to respond to the Holy Spirit’s call to commit their lives to God. This happens for children and youth at various ages. When someone begins to have an understanding of the gospel, he or she is ready to respond to the Holy Spirit’s call to repent from their sins, trust in Christ’s work on their behalf, and commit to follow Him. The gospel message is presented in worship services, in Sunday School, and special events such as summer outreaches. Here is a resource parents can use to share the gospel with their child. https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/spiritual-growth-for-kids/salvation-leading-your-child-to-Jesus/how-to-share-the-gospel-with-your-child
The Lord’s Supper
Parents are encouraged to explain how the elements of communion represent Christ’s sacrifice and help their child practice a time of prayer and reflection. Parents are given a study resource to learn about what it means to put their faith in Christ and also learn about the Lord’s Supper with their child. Communion occurs during worship the first Sunday of each month. Children can receive a special blessing from the pastor during communion if it is their first time upon advanced request. (Matthew 28:19 & 1 Corinthians 11:26)
Studying God’s Word
Bibles are presented to all third graders or a child who has not received one yet in a worship service held in the springtime. As children develop into youth, they can develop Bible study habits encouraged and role modeled by their parents and children and youth leaders.
God’s Word is a lamp for our lives (Psalm 119:105) and “all scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). As children read and study the Bible they develop a greater awareness of their own relationship with God and they grow into their calling as faithful disciples. (Psalm 119:105)
Engaging With Christ and Others
Through Neelsville Kids Ministry and our Neelsville Students Ministry, Neelsville Presbyterian Church is committed to helping youth engage in their relationships with Christ and with one another.
Beginning in sixth grade, students will take ownership of their faith by engaging in service, fellowship, worship and Bible study. Developmentally, there is a healthy need youth have to gain independence. Youth start spending more time outside of the home and are confronted with “the things of this world” (1 John 2:15) having to make what can often be difficult decisions. Youth leaders are committed to coming alongside parents with various real world issues like sexuality, social media, self-identity and more. We want youth to articulate who Christ is and live for Him.
Serving Christ on Mission
Children, youth, and their families have multiple opportunities throughout the year to show the love of Christ to our local community. And as students get older (beginning in 7th grade), mission trips are a important way for students to be the hands and feet of Christ and experience God’s grace and presence in challenging situations through hard work serving in rural, urban, and/or international environments. On these equipping trips they will serve through work projects and evangelism. They will realize needs and explore their gifts (Matthew 25:40).
Confirming Covenantal Partnership with the Church
Our young people are called to articulate their faith and confirm their baptism covenant as they become fully responsible members of our congregation (1 Timothy 6:12). Once in high school, youth can complete a course with teachers, mentors, families, and peers to prepare and reaffirm their baptismal covenant, make a public profession of personal faith, and commit to live as disciples of Christ and responsible members of the community of faith.
Taking Our Faith Into the World
As students prepare to graduate from high school, our congregation commits to equipping our Seniors in High School to take their faith out into the world in all that they say and do. Seniors will be recognized and presented with a gift focusing on their Christian faith development during a special worship service at the end of the school year. Our congregation continues their commitment from baptism to partner with graduates as they go out into world through ongoing and intentional mentorship and connection including sending care packages to students away at school.