Thursday, August 2, 2012

Children's Ministry Around the World - Northern Ireland!

Today we are continuing our look at children's ministry around the world . . . join me on our "journey" as we head north to the Emerald Island and learn about a ministry in Northern Ireland!

Dave Pavey is the children's pastor at Causeway coast Vineyard Church in Coleraine, on the North Coast of Ireland - 55 miles northwest of Belfast. This church began in 1999 meeting in a local pub! I asked Dave what a "typical" Sunday looked like at his church and he said the kids are involved in activities, music, Bible games, prayer, Bible lessons, review and taking an offering for a child they support through World Vision in South Africa. Dave said they have used Willow Creek's "Flipt" curriculum and write their own as well. He said the kids love the worship time and the relational aspect of their ministry the most . . and that they get to "do the same kingdom stuff the adults do"!

I asked Dave if they plan any big events, such as VBS, throughout the year and he said, "We run four big events during the year which are aimed at children and their families. They are always an 'easy in' for friends and relatives and involve a ton of games and competitions with quality prizes. Our main events are Good Friday BIG Party, Allstars Got Talent, Hallo Bean and Fat Santa's at Christmas. They attract anywhere between 50 and 400 people. Destiny Island is our equivalent of a VBS and is for both our kids and the kids of the community. We have loads of the usual fun stuff but last year we tried taking teams of kids into the town center to do free giveaways. It was the highlight of the week for many of them!"  

Since I'm from the USA where we have "freedom" of religion, I found what Dave said about freedom of religion in Northern Ireland very interesting. He said, "Northern Ireland is unlike the rest of the UK as there is much more freedom; especially within primary schools where the over-riding teacher influence is Christian. So we have seen many children come to faith in schools as well as praying for physical healing." Here in the USA we have "freedom" of religion, but it is very difficult, if not nearly impossible, for us to actually be able to present Jesus to children in our schools.

I asked Dave why he served in children's ministry and he said, "I got into children's ministry because we needed someone to fill the gap between one set of burnt out leaders and the next gifted children's leader. That person didn't arrive. However, what started as a painful act of service has become the most privileged thing I have ever done - the more I serve kids, the more I understand the Father's heart for them!" Dave said, "If I could do anything with my kids it would be to take the 9-11 year olds on a mission  trip to an impoverished country."  

Pray for Dave and his ministry -

  • as they reach out to the children in their church and community with their four main events each year
  • as they reach their community with Destiny Island
  • as they minister with children in the schools

Thank you Dave for giving us a glimpse into your heart and ministry with the children in Northern Ireland!

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