Our mission as a church is to make disciples of Jesus who worship God passionately, connect with each other in caring community and impact the world by word and deed.
One of our core values as a church is Families - because healthy marriages and children are vital to God’s mission in the world. Of those we seek to make into worshipping, connecting and impacting disciples, none are more important to us than the children God gives us and sends to us. But, we don't believe that the church is God's primary agent for reaching our children. That role belongs to parents, and it is the role of the church to assist moms and dads in passing the baton of faith to their children. That involves far more than just two hours on Sunday. How does a parent take on the responsibility of "primary faith trainer" in a child's life? First, the parent grows in his or her own understanding of the Bible and relationship with Christ. Second, parents learn how to effectively practice age-appropriate family devotions in their own home. Finally, parents learn to equip their children for the natural, spiritual milestones of life.
Our spiritual formation process begins in infancy and continues into adulthood, designed around five Legacy Milestones. We partner with parents to equip preschoolers, children, and students with the Biblical and practical understanding to experience the next phase of life. In this way we build a legacy of faith into the next generation. We have created a simple path for families to walk on called LEGACY MILESTONES. This idea is not original to us, but has been adopted to the distinctive mission and needs of North Park Church.
- Parents are the primary teachers and leaders of their children. The church’s chief mission with respect to the children is to instruct and equip the parents to fulfill their responsibilities. In addition, we intend to supplement parental training through church ministry while guarding against the danger of overprogramming for our children or competing with the family for their time and loyalty.
- As Presbyterians committed to Covenant theology, we do regard our children as members of the church by virtue of their birth or adoption. We see them as being part of us until they consciously opt to depart from us. We also recognize that children may have a renewed heart and true faith before they are able to articulate such. Therefore, while we want our children to frequently hear the gospel message and respond in faith, we will not suggest that a covenant child needs a conscious experience of “conversion” or must be able to identify a particular moment of enlightenment or commitment.
1. Baptism- Parental Covenant
The first step on the legacy pathway is water baptism, which most often takes place in the early weeks or months of a child's life during a worship service. As a prerequisite for baptism, parents will listen to a recording of our senior pastor discussing the vows that parent's take upon a child's baptism. This same recording will include an explanation of why we believe that water baptism for the children of believers is both biblical and important. In addition, new parents will be expected to attend (before or after baptism) the seminar "Biblical Parenting of Young Children" which is offered annually on the first two Sundays in June. This seminar will cover spiritual nurture, family worship, discipline and more. Some great resources for parents will be made available. The baptism itself is arranged with the Sr. Pastor. A certificate will be prepared to commemorate the occasion and the child we be added to our church's baptized roll.
Other Mini-Milestones along the way include:
* Entrance into Children's Sunday School- age 3
* Move from Nursery to Children & Worship- age 4
* Presentation of First Grade Bibles- September of first grade year
* Enter Trekkers and Adult Worship- September of grade 3
2. Profession of Faith/Membership (FLEXIBLE TIMING)
A critical milestone for any young disciple is making a personal commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior. For the child growing up in a Christian home and in the context of a local church, this can occur at very different points, but is most often reached between the ages of 7 and 12. When a parent feels a child has truly done this and can articulate a personal faith in the Savior, this is the occasion to arrange for the child to offer a profession of faith before the elders of the church. This is done during an interview with two of our elders that will focus on the child’s understanding and ability to confess accurately who Jesus is, what He has done for us, his/her personal belief in or commitment to Jesus, his/her recognition of personal sinfulness and some reasonable grasp of what the Lord’s Supper is about. If the interview is satisfactory and the child has previously been baptized the child will be admitted to the Lord’s Table and the roll of confirmed members. Before the next celebration of the Lord's Supper such a child will be presented to the church and take simple vows of commitment.
To assist in this process we have available online and in the church office a children's membership manual. This manual is like a work-at-home communicants class and covers core gospel issues, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper and the meaning of church membership. Parents may or may not choose to use this tool.
3. Preparation for Adolescence (Just Prior to Sixth Grade)
It is important to help children prepare for the changes related to adolescence. Therefore, we want to equip parents to meet that challenge. Parents are encouraged to attend a two hour seminar called Preparing for Adolescence: Parent Edition. This seminar teaches the basics concerning talking with your kids about relevant issues such as physical changes, identity in Christ, and sex. Parents will learn how to use James Dobson's CD series called Preparing for Adolescence in the course of a special weekend for you and your maturing child. This seminar will be offered each Spring for parents whose children are entering sixth grade.
* Entrance into Student Ministry including a preparation class for parents and youth
* Receiving of Ninth-grade Bibles along with a Growth Seminar with Director of Student Ministry
4. Adult Membership (Ages 16-18)
Young people at NPC, once they turn 16, will be encouraged to attend either the regular membership courses or a special teen class. Upon completion of the class requirements, a teen will be interviewed by at least two elders. If the teen has already been approved for communion this will simply be a teen shepherding checkup, otherwise it is a regular membership interview.
This class is designed to cover core gospel truths, but also emphasizes biblical teaching on the nature and mission of the church, on church discipline and spiritual gifts.
* Silver Ring Thing- event focusing on sexual purity
* Missions Trips
* Training in Apologetics
5. High-School Graduation
For most parents, high-school graduation begins the countdown to a major launch into the different world of college. As parents approach this scary and wonderful season, we will provide ideas on how to make a graduation "party" something meaningful to your teen. Students, with their parents, will be recognized at our second worship service in June and will be given a book along with a charge and prayer. Those students who head off to college will receive followup into the freshman year in the way of assistance in locating campus ministries and local churches as well as care packages from their home church.