Spiritually nurturing the next generation
A special message from Pastor Mark Toone
Hello my Sweetheart Church:
I will never forget the moment when I suddenly qualified for Father’s Day: the birth of Rachel Megan Toone. Well, my “little girl” also happens to be an EPC ordained pastor…and a pretty terrific communicator, if I do say so myself! She is home for a few days…and I twisted her arm to preach the Father’s Day sermon for us tomorrow, June 18. (It wasn’t much of an arm-twisting.) And…she happens to be preaching on what I think is the greatest story Jesus ever told. Rachel…preaching on the Prodigal Son. A double whammy. Fair warning… you’ll want to see this in person!
Spiritually nurturing the next generation
by Kingsley Powell
In 1 Kings 4:29-34 we read about how God gave incredible wisdom to King Solomon, wisdom beyond measure. Solomon wrote one of my favorite verses relating to raising up children:
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6).
Applying Solomon’s wisdom is our collected goal when training up a child. This past weekend at our Sunday celebration services, our church confirmed the faith and membership of 12 high schoolers: Kellyn Andonian; Kimberly Ballard; Emily Berry; Audrey Blair; Estèe Blair; Kendal Dykman; Riley Dykman; Abigail Hallam; Abigail Hartman; Jack Krona; Zachary Lindmark; and Jeremiah Taylor.
This was not only exciting and cause for celebration but even more than that, it was truly powerful. These students have devoted a year of training and education in the basics of our faith. Pastor Mark led a confirmation ceremony and the capstone of their training, as all of our pastors stood on the worship stage, was when Pastor Ellis joined Pastor Mark kneeling and marking each of their 12 foreheads with oil. It was truly astonishing and highly reverent. In case you missed the service, you can watch it here.
I was joined by the other confirmation class leaders (Tanner Stepp, Mirym Brandt, Serena Blair, Chris Hallam, and Mandy Cuda) on the chancel as we supported the 12 high schoolers. We’ve all had the blessing of getting to know these students as we’ve done life together for a year now. Some of the students, I’ve known for multiple years, and it was so special being a part of this journey with them. I speak for all of the leaders when I say how impressed we are with the faith, sacrifice, and perseverance of these students. Their sheer devotion to a two-hour class every Sunday for a year while juggling everything else in their life, is amazing. We cannot be more joyous of their zeal and passion to grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I’d like to share that this was my first time leading a full confirmation class at Chapel Hill. After the pandemic, we started from scratch as I collaborated with our pastoral team to create an exceptional curriculum. The training topics included: Christian leadership, the gospel, generosity, the bible, communication, God’s voice, EPC church culture, personal testimonies, prayer and worship, Christian sexual integrity, outreach, missions, idolatry, Christian identity, living a legacy, discipleship and thriving beyond.
Each lesson was crafted and closely reviewed for accurate biblical instruction, denominational alignment, and relevance to this generation. It was broken up into winter and spring semesters and is covered with beautiful nature images taken by our students. The lessons stimulate group discussion and individual reflection. The biblical principles and truth of our Christian identity make a stand against the popular world view. Our students are not told what to think but given Godly tools on how to think. The entire curriculum and class intentionally point to Jesus as the source of all our love and devotion which produces real faith development. Over the course of this year, I’ve seen students in this group develop spiritual disciplines that we should all strive to reach.
From the inception of the curriculum to the ceremony this past Sunday, I am incredibly thankful to all who contributed and gave value to the spiritual nurturing of the next generation. Our pastoral staff, volunteer leaders and especially parents. As a youth leader, I believe this is God’s heart; to spiritually nurture children of the church. This vision is directly aligned and stated in the EPC Book of Order, chapter 4, section 4-4, which states:
Principal responsibilities of the local church: to promote true religion in the home. The spiritual nurture, instruction, and training of the children of the church are committed by God primarily to their parents. They are responsible to the church for the faithful discharge of their obligations. The home and the church should also make special provision for instructing the children in the Bible and in the Church Catechisms. The church should maintain constant and sympathetic relations with the children. It also should encourage them, on coming to years of discretion, to make confession of the Lord Jesus Christ and to enter upon all privileges of full church membership. If they are wayward, they should be cherished by the church and every means used to reclaim them.
We are all a part of the body of Christ, and as the body, it is our principle responsibly to spiritually nurture, instruct and train the children of the church. One of the core values and DNA of church is to raise up God’s children. There are so many opportunities to step in and be a part of spiritually nurturing the next generation. Would you consider joining one of the Sunday morning volunteer teams in our kids’ elementary ministry this summer? We’d love nothing more than to see your faith impacted by imparting our core beliefs into the lives of God’s young ones. Sign up here.
Director of Student Ministries