Children come first at the nearly 5-year-old Parkside Church in Oceanside, California.
“We have a massive focus on the next generation,” church planter and pastor Jim Britts said. “This is not a church just for young families but it is a church for people who care about the next generation.”
Parkside is an example of a Southern Baptist church plant that has become a “multiplying” congregation, making inroads on lostness in a state where people are not looking for churches, Britts said. The church is sending out church planters as well as starting other churches even as it has grown to about 225 in Sunday morning worship.
“It’s not about this church; it’s about the kingdom of God,” Britts said. “Church planters need to be more like a missionary than a pastor: engaging the city and making disciples. That’s what Jesus called us to do.
“He will build the church from the disciples,” Britts said. “And out of the overflow of disciples more churches are planted.”
One of the congregation’s five values is that children from birth through age 18 come first.
“Every church in our country should have that same focus,” Britts said. “If we figured that out it would change the way we do church.”
‘All about discipleship’
“There’s a race in today’s culture to the heart of every child and the first one there wins,” he said. “If we can disciple and raise up and empower kids and teens they’re actually the best way to reach our city.”
Discipleship starts at Parkside with Nehemiah Kids, a midweek program for students in first through fifth grade that includes quiet time, Scripture memorization and serving in a ministry.
Those in sixth through 12th grade engage in similar age-appropriate activities as part of Leaders In Training.
Adults are discipled in small groups that meet throughout the week.
“It’s all about discipleship,” Britts said. “Without it where would our kids be five years from now? Where would undiscipled Christian adults be? If we’re not making disciples we’re missing the whole point.
“The metrics of salvations and attendance and offerings are important, but the bottom line is, are we making disciples who make disciples?”
Those who are discipled start serving in ministry and some experience God’s call to become leaders, pastors, church planters and volunteers at church plants, Britts said.
“It’s about Kingdom expansion, not just growing our church.” (BP)