Quality & challenging biblical learning: More than just knowing the right answers, children need to understand God’s Word, know what it means for their lives, and be challenged to think theologically (i.e., consider life from God’s point of view). So, quality of learning, not just quantity of learning is important to us. We are driven by a desire to see children personally know the Lord, understand His Word, and apply it to their lives.
Intrinsic motivation: Rewards and other incentives are tools that are often successful in motivating children to learn and behave. But it cannot be the reason for learning & obedience because it can’t impact on what matters most to the Lord: (1) hearts that are devoted to him and (2) true righteousness–not the superficial, Pharisaical righteousness. So, we desire, by God’s grace, to provide an environment where children’s desire to learn, grow, and obey Him is rooted in the love of God-both His love for us and our love for Him borne by His Spirit. We seek to foster such a context through loving relationships with children and teaching that addresses the heart (not merely outward behavior). Yep, we still offer rewards, provide incentives, and play games. But it’s our hope these things not be the central and ultimate motivation for children but instead be contributors and secondary motivations to learning.
Loving relationships: Children thrive in a safe and loving environment. Their safety and care are a high priority for us.
Joy-filled environment: Fun activities and games that contribute to the building of relationships or learning are important to us. Why? Because God created fun and children learn well through fun activities & games. But flashiness and high energy that exists just for the sake of entertainment is not what we seek. In all honesty, if we aimed at being the most entertaining and exciting thing out there, we’d fail miserably. Why? Because we have multi-billion dollar corporations that we’d be competing against and because God has called us not to entertain, but to make disciples.
Equipping and partnering with parents: God’s Word is clear that those who have been given primary responsibility to lead children in knowing and following Jesus are not churches, teachers, or pastors but their parents. It’s not God’s plan for the church to assume the instruction and modeling that takes place most effectively in home by mom and dad. Scripture teaches that all believers have a special responsibility to disciple the generations that follow them; but it’s the parents (especially dads) who are primarily responsible for discipling their own children and directing them toward a growing relationship in the Lord. So as the church ministers to parents, it must equip them to raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Grace Place seeks to equip parents to live out their God-given role at home through Grace@Home, family events, Sunday School take-home sheets, and Awana–particularly the Awana handbook.