It is sadly one of the more overlooked ministries of the church.
I have worked in children’s ministries for more than half my life and I now serve as the children’s ministries coordinator for my church. What I have witnessed over the years is not only a lack of interest in children’s ministries, but a severe lack of vision for children as a whole.
Cookie-cutter programs filled with boring games, art projects that end up in the trash, and stories that are often irrelevant to the culture children face today do little to lay the sturdy foundation children will need to face a level of peer pressure my generation could never be able to comprehend.
It was while reading the first chapter of George Bara’s book “Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions: Why Children Should Be Your Church’s #1 Priority” that I began to get a small glimpse into what my children will likely face. He explains – according to recent statistics – that the vast majority of children will at least experiment with risky behavior: alcohol, drugs, illicit sex, etc.
That left me stunned! I literally could not read further. The thought that my tender 3 ½ year old and almost 2 year old would one day experiment with drugs, engage in illicit sex, or come home drunk was literally too much for me to take in.
As I sat at my table, staring at the words glaring back at me from my Kindle, it suddenly became clear to me that today’s children lose their innocence far too early! Today’s grade school children are more street wise than I was in high school. And it grieves me more than I can describe to think that I will have to somehow prepare my children for that. I suddenly wanted to turn back the clock 40 – 50 years and raise my children in an era where my children can remain innocent longer!
Photo Credit ~ Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
One of the best ways we can minister to our children is to view children through the same lens that Jesus viewed children.
When the disciples turned the children away because they were bothersome, Jesus rebuked his disciples and received the children. Let us ask ourselves, what our motive is behind having a children’s ministry in our church. Is it to get the bothersome children out of the church service or to provide them a place where they can encounter Jesus on their level? And are they truly having a living and lasting encounter with Jesus?
Jesus also said it would be better that one have a millstone tied around our neck and that we be cast into the sea than to cause a little one to stumble – or sin. Certainly we are living in a world of those who cause little ones to sin every day.
Jesus’ perspective on children was forward thinking.
He invested in them. He valued them.
He did not view them as bothersome. He didn’t consider them “the church of tomorrow”.
With Jesus’ perspective, we can create a ministry for children that truly ministers to them; that invests in them, and that arms them with spiritual weaponry that will protect them from a world of entrapments that threaten to alienate them from their Heavenly Father.
Do you work in children’s ministries? May I encourage you to fall on your face and seek a vision from the throne of God? After you have received a vision for those precious children, begin laying out goals that will enable you to accomplish that vision. Finally, begin to formulate a program for them that will engage them and bring them to a place where they can experience Jesus.
Children’s ministries should never be boring. Children’s ministries should never be endured. Children’s ministries should never be only fun. Children’s ministries should be one of the first places a child encounters Jesus!
Children can and should experience Jesus on a deep level. Children’s ministries can and should create an atmosphere that fosters that desire in them.
By doing so, you partner with the parents in your church in laying a durable foundation that will support them as they venture out into a world that seeks to “offend”, and will ensure that they successfully withstand the storms of peer pressure with their structure firmly in place.
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