“It’s our job to recognize when only God could have pulled us through something, and then show that to our kids,” Dr. Shelly Melia, associate dean of the Graduate School of Ministry at Dallas Baptist University, told attendees of the 2021 Childhood and Family Ministry Summit.
The Childhood and Family Ministry Summit is an annual event centered around equipping all preschool and children’s teachers and leaders, from Bible study teachers to weekday ministry directors. It is facilitated by the Texas Baptists Center for Church Health. This year, participants gathered at Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University and heard from experts in children’s ministry and education on various subjects during breakout sessions, as well as attending keynote sessions led by Melia.
"Our breakout session leaders brought a wealth of knowledge and experience that will prove helpful to our local church leaders,” Jennifer Howington, Texas Baptists Childrenhood Ministry specialist, said. “I am especially grateful for Dr. Shelly Melia, who served as our keynote speaker this year. Dr. Melia has served on church staff for over 25 years in multiple states and is now serving as an educator in the Graduate School of Ministry at Dallas Baptist University. She knows ministry from multiple perspectives, and we were so blessed to be able to sit under her teaching."
During Melia’s first session, entitled “Lions and Giants and Bears, Oh My! Equipping Children to Have a Resilient Faith,” she broke down the five key things that children need in a church in order to have strong faith– family, authenticity, intergenerational relationships, truth and hardships and hope. She drew from the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 15, in which David said that he knew God would be with him because He had previously given David the strength to fight a lion and a bear. Because of those trials early on in his life, he knew God would help him defeat Goliath. Melia encouraged those in attendance to allow children to face small hardships so that they will see how God provides for them and use that foundation to face even harder challenges later.
“We have to ask ourselves who or what the lions and bears in our children’s lives are, and we need to give them an opportunity to struggle with and grow strong from them,” Melia explained.