A Spiritual ‘Hackathon’

Children ministry leaders in Estonia inspired to help children “fall in love with God forever”

News April 6, 2022

06 April 2022 | Simisalu, Estonia [Diana Sommer and Mervi Kalmus with tedNEWS]

What is required to help children “fall in love with God forever?” As children’s ministry leaders from across the Estonian Conference met together at the Estonian Children’s Ministry Seminar (ECMS), they were looking not only to be inspired, but to discover a wholistic understanding of how to help children develop a sustainable faith.

Held from April 1-3, at Simisalu, Estonia, the training led by Karen Holford, Family, Women, and Children’s Ministries director for the Trans-European Division (TED), covered a variety of topics, including emotional intelligence, understanding the teenage brain and creative spirituality. “My main objective is to help people think about the simple things that they can do to help children grow spiritually,” said Holford. “I don’t want to put a heavy burden on people’s shoulders, instead I want to show them how easy it is to transform children’s lives and help them to fall in love with God forever.”

Afraid that she may forget some of the ideas shared, Külli Keel, mother of three young children, decided to write down a long to-do list for herself. “One important idea I am taking away is to try and strengthen my own, and my kids’, positive character traits,” said Keel.

Eve Nõmm found it “impossible not to get fired up!” Nõmm appreciated that the focus of the seminar was always on God. “It was like a mixture of family therapy and a spiritual ‘hackathon’.”¹

Aiki Pärna, Children’s Ministry director for the Estonian Conference, waited impatiently for the pandemic health restrictions to be lifted so the seminar could take place. Thrilled that at last the leaders could meet again, she challenged the twenty-five attendees, “take three ideas away and put them into practice in your home church, and this weekend will have been a success!”

Children can “fall in love with God forever,” said Holford. [Photos: Kaile Tuvi/ CC BY 4.0]

Three ideas…

  1. At bedtime, ask children where they saw God working today. Invite them to mention three things they want to thank God for, or three things that went well. Share with them something positive you noticed about them during the day and ensure that they fall asleep go to feeling loved, happy, blessed, and peaceful.
  2. Learn the twenty-four different character traits that are valued in every culture. Develop your characters together as a family and be aware of when your child shows one of these strengths. Congratulate and affirm their good choices! Find fun and creative ways to nurture these strengths in your child’s life (especially kindness).
  3. Make Sabbaths a delight in your home and at church! Involve children creatively in your church services and choose Sabbath activities that they will enjoy. The more delightful and enjoyable Sabbaths are for our children, the more likely it is that they will choose to follow Jesus.


Would you like to learn more about emotional intelligence and forgiveness?

¹ ‘Hacking’ refers to creative problem solving. A ‘hackathon’ is an event where people come together to solve problems.

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