Behavioral Principles

At Highlands, we heartily agree with Psalm 127:3-5, which says “Children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward…how blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” We have been greatly blessed at Highlands with many children and see each of them as a gift from the Lord. We are building kingdom disciples who will tell the next generation about the great God whom we serve. We who labor on behalf of the children and their parents take our responsibility seriously and want to do all we can to build faith into these children and to encourage their parents. This responsibility is what has inspired and formed the following principles and guidelines for behavior at Highlands. 

Three Convictions: There are three major convictions which have motivated the development of these behavioral guidelines.

  1. First, we are growing very quickly and it is important for certain boundaries to be in place for the sake of “family.” Stewardship of church property, the safety of others, and the safety of our children are at stake. A child running through the church may not be a concern to most people, but for an elderly woman who is shaky on her feet and terrified of a broken hip, a running child poses a very serious threat.
  2. Second, children who are well-disciplined and under control honor the Lord, honor their parents, and are a positive reflection of the ministry of our church. If this is true, then the opposite is also true. Unruly children dishonor the Lord and are an embarrassment to their parents and to the church (Proverbs 29:15, I Timothy 3:4-5).
  3. Third, and probably the most important, is that discipline is an important part of nurturing faith in our children. To follow Jesus is to obey Him and submit to His authority. Cultivating an obedient spirit in our children and teaching them to yield to God-given authorities in their lives helps to prepare their hearts to obey Christ and to bend their wills toward His.

Guiding Principles:

Although it is possible to control the outward actions of a child and produce a desired behavior, the goal of our ministry to young people is to direct their hearts to God and cultivate a spirit which is responsive to Him. True obedience and discipline flow from a heart that is responsive to the Lord; it is not merely conformity to an external set of rules. Therefore, if we are concerned about the behavior of our children, the most important thing that parents and teachers can do is to seek God’s help in nurturing hearts of faith out of which acts of righteousness will flow.

  • We will maintain high standards for behavior at Highlands, but we are also committed to being fair and realistic. If a child had only six hours of sleep the night before, we should not be surprised if he has difficulty sitting still in church. If there are 45 minutes of unstructured time between a social event and a worship service, we should not be surprised if children get into mischief. We will do our best to consider children and their limits and try to accommodate their needs as much as possible.
  • Parents are ultimately responsible for the behavior of their children. We will expect parents to keep their children under control during public gatherings and to make sure that their children are under adult supervision while they are in the building. When under the supervision of a children’s worker at Highlands, that worker will be expected to maintain order and appropriate behavior of the children in his care. If a child is not responsive to any of the permissible forms of classroom management, the child will be taken to his parents.
  • The raising of children is also a community responsibility. As a church family, we gladly stand with parents and are eager to do all we can to support and encourage them in their parenting responsibilities. We consider it a serious responsibility to teach the full counsel of God and inspire children in faith, in love, and in righteousness. Some children will struggle with behavior problems more than others. The children’s ministry staff is eager to pray, strategize, and work with parents to find solutions.

Expectations of Children:

Although the behavioral boundaries vary depending on the age of the child, the activity they are involved in, and where that activity takes place, most rules will fall under one of the four basic teaching goals we have for children at Highlands.

  • Respect for the Lord’s House. Children will be expected to treat the church building, furnishings, and equipment in a way that honors the Lord and to use those things in the way that they were intended. Specifically, children will be encouraged to walk on floors, not on chairs or tables. Paper is an appropriate medium for artistic expression, not walls or furniture. Trash belongs in trash containers, not on the floor. Space and equipment should be left in the same or better condition than it was found. Children or their parents may be asked to accept responsibility for accidental or intentional damage to church property or equipment.
  • Respect for Adults. We want the children of Highlands to honor the adults in the church with respectful speech and behavior. Sassing or defying the instruction or correction of an adult are examples of what is considered disrespectful.
  • Respect for Others. We will endeavor to provide a physically, emotionally, and spiritually safe environment for every child involved at Highlands. Children will be encouraged to think before they speak and find encouraging things to say to others. Therefore, mean, crude or hurtful speech or actions toward others is not acceptable.
  • Respect for Themselves. We will encourage children not to act in ways that will put their bodies or their faith at risk.

A Word About Correction:  We believe that discipline should be primarily positive and so we encourage parents and those who work with children to be quick to encourage and affirm positive behavior. We also encourage immediate and consistent response to negative behavior before it escalates into a serious problem. If the parents are present, we will expect them to correct their children when they misbehave. We will also encourage other adults not to ignore a behavior problem when they see it. If someone else speaks to your child, please do not be offended or insulted.

If parents are not present, the person in charge may respond by:

  1. speaking to the child and issuing a warning;
  2. denying a privilege or isolating the child from the group;
  3. taking the child to the Children’s Ministry Director;
  4. calling on the parent to discipline the child.

Since it is our conviction that parents are the appropriate persons to employ corporal punishment when needed (and this is best carried out privately), any physical form of correction is considered unacceptable in the classroom or any other group setting. Those working with children and youth are permitted to gently restrain a child to keep him from hurting himself or another.

Thank you for taking the time to read this information. Please discuss this with your children. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact the Children’s Ministry Director at 601-853-0636.