Author Archives: Nikki Lanigan B.R.E.


Practising Faith in the Home

I don’t anticipate my children will concoct scientific learning labs in the kitchen to reinforce the Bible passage they’ve read for the day. Nor do I expect that one will stack couch cushions to build the walls of Jericho while the other unearths Dad’s trumpet from his ’80s glory days to blow the wall down. As parents, we desire creative ideas for bringing faith into the home; however only the most imaginative thinkers (with similarly gifted children) will have the time or mental energy to do this.

Children need to know that practising faith is often quiet, reflective, and expressive. But parents and mentors need to make it happen.

On Jan. 17/18, 2014, Northwest hosted the Transform Conference, with Awana Canada and FamilyLife Canada joining as title sponsors. Keynote speaker Mark Holmen, of Faith@Home, shared some distressing statistics.

Although teens say by far the greatest spiritual influencers in their life are their parents,

  • only 27% have experienced either family devotions, prayer or Bible reading within the home,
  • only 28% have talked about faith with their mom,
  • and only 13% with their dad.

Deuteronomy 6:1–25 stresses the importance of remembering the loving commands and provision of the Lord, and impressing them on your children. What does that look like with children? Here are some keep-it-simple strategies.

Read the Bible. Devotionals are great, but they often don’t go beyond morals-based teaching. Reading full Bible passages plants the stories into the child’s mind, allowing children to gain an understanding of the narrative of Scripture, and more importantly, the character, actions, and person of God.

Pray. Prayer should be heartfelt and honest. Teach your children ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. When life is far from simple and we don’t know what to pray for, let your child know the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans (Romans 8:26). Demonstrate that you can write your prayers, draw your prayers, walk or dance your prayers, and pray through music or poetry.

Give. Teach children about tithes and offerings. My sister-in-law has three piggy banks for each of her children labelled “God,” “Savings” and “Spending.” For every dollar earned, each jar gets its designated percentage. If you’re grocery shopping with young children, buy something for the sole purpose of putting it in the food bank box after checking out. From your example, children will learn generosity and that everything they have comes from God.

Memorize Scripture. For some this is easy; others break out in hives at the thought of it! My eldest son can memorize after simply reading a verse, but with my youngest, we make up actions or put the words to a familiar melody. Even if the words aren’t learned perfectly, the truth of the passage will stay in the child’s heart and mind (Proverbs 22:6). God will bring these words to mind when the child needs a particular truth in his or her life.

There are many simple ideas. Do what makes sense to the children you love, and don’t burden yourself with guilt. Join the parents who attended the conference and have already implemented strategies to bring faith into the home. Be relieved to know as one mother commented, “That it’s okay if faith talks occur while driving in the car instead of when eating at the dinner table.” As a pastor I once spoke with stated, “The one thing you do this week is better than the nothing you did last week.”

Then watch the Spirit work in the life of your family. Whether life presents joys or tribulations, the value of practicing and teaching faith in the home will be felt as you “soar on wings like eagles” (Is. 40:31) or “take refuge in the shadow of his wings” (Ps. 57:1).

And once you start, you may soon find yourself encouraging another family to likewise bring faith into their home.

A version of this article first appeared in the MB Herald.

2014 Transform Children’s and Parent’s Conference

Photos from the recent Children’s Conference held at Northview Church in Abbotsford.

Children’s Ministry

1191196_67173144Do you believe in the body of Christ? Somewhat of a ridiculous question to ask those who fully believe in Scripture and the teachings of 1 Corinthians 12. But if the saying ‘we practice what we preach’ is true, then where are all the children? In your ‘body of Christ’ – your congregation – where are all the children? Are they part of the body? Or are they a dismembered limb?

These are challenging questions, and to some, simply offensive, but they need to be asked. I worked in Children’s Ministry for 6 years before the children of my church were part of the ‘main body.’ Too many children had never seen communion or baptism, had never heard a missionary report or a pastoral prayer, had never seen their parents give in tithing, knew not their parents’ songs of worship … in short, ‘adult’ church had no meaning, no context, and no place for them.

Did we believe in the body of Christ? Could be debated.

Scottie May TeachingAt the TRANSFORM: Children’s Ministry Conference, we were posed with a variety of questions such as those above, challenging us to give honest answers. Compelling us to admit that though we believe in theory, our practice is not what we preach.

Dr. Scottie May, Assistant Professor of Christian Formation and Ministry at Wheaton College, and a long time participant in Children’s Ministry, brought us to the foundation of what we do. This was not a ‘cookie cutter conference’ where we took home a program and attempted to implement a program for 250 children with the 25 that attend. This was a challenge for each Children’s Pastor to consider children in light of the Scriptures; to consider their church’s and their leadership’s view of the child; to consider their programming and whether it left a child worshipping the one true God or mesmerized by their Nickelodeon set-up. As one participant wrote, the most beneficial aspect was “being challenged to think … not given too many answers, just more questions.” And as another wrote, “She [Scottie] really pushed people to think outside the norm and I thought that was great.”

Sessions at the Children's Ministry ConferenceBreakout sessions brought more depth and insight to Scottie’s teachings.  She began by stating, “I am not a speaker. I am a teacher and I’m here to teach. So let’s get started!”  Children’s pastors were given tools for practicing the spiritual disciplines with children; given scripture and helps for running a Bible-saturated ministry; and given tips from the ‘Little Blue Church’ on how to build a strong and healthy relationship with their local public school. Our eyes were opened to the needs of ‘special needs’ children and their families, and how the church can support them. Our hearts were drawn to sharing God’s story with hurting and abused children. And this is just a sampling.

So where did we (over 50 churches) go from there? Back to church. We went back to our ministries considering, contemplating and wondering why we do what we do. We were given the tools to biblically and philosophically consider our ministry and its purpose and spiritual effectiveness. We were encouraged to dialogue with church leadership to reconsider their perspective on children. In short, we left transformed.

Now some did not go directly back to church. Eleven of us continued our learning in the class, Transformational Teaching in Children’s Ministry, offered by Northwest Baptist Seminary and ACTS Seminaries. We had the privilege of diving even further into the elements and theory of teaching and learning, into the perspectives on children’s ministry, into curriculum development and assessment, into ministry to special needs children and finally into ministry to pre-teen children. The specialists who taught each component brought much wisdom and knowledge and reaffirmed what others had already taught.

And now we continue our learning. In January Northwest/ACTS will offer the class Biblical Philosophy of Children’s Ministry which will delve into a holistic understanding of Children’s Ministry. It will provide context for contemporary ministry, by looking into the history of Christian Education and the Sunday School movement. It will provide a biblical basis for writing objectives, goals and purpose statements for Children’s Ministry. It will teach Children’s Pastors how to write a Philosophy for Children’s Ministry, develop a Ministry Plan, and intricately assess a Children’s Ministry program. The professor, Melodie Bissell (MDV), brings wisdom, knowledge, passion and over 30 years of experience in Children’s Ministry to share with the students.

For more information on Children’s Ministry courses, and the Executive Certificate in Children’s Ministry of which these are a part, go to: