A Kid’s Ministry that Leads Kids into MinistryBy Jamie Maxim
April 17, 2020
As leaders in the church, we are often burdened with the question of how to help encourage our church’s youth to foster a passion of participation in ministry. Our kids today are inundated with secular media that encourages and perpetuates an entitlement culture focused solely on themselves. Often this is evidenced by their lack of will to remove themselves from their screen(s), even in the presence of their closest friends. Our world entices our kids to be served, via self-gratifying entertainment, rather to serve, through sacrificial involvement in ministry. The following are four practices that have helped the youth of our church generate a passion for our ministries, rather than a self-focused passion for themselves.
Be a church that disciples parents who will disciple their children.
Fostering a passion in our youth regarding teaching Christ to the youngest of the church congregation does not just happen, or even start, with children’s ministry. It starts at home. The call of Deuteronomy 6 is clear: parents are the primary disciple-makers of their children.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:4–7 ESV)
Teach with diligence. Teach in every experience. Teach at any time of day. Displaying service as a required duty rather than a special privilege is a recipe for Pharisee-like behavior and/or bitter attitudes toward the church in our kids. As their parents—as saved believers in our glorious God—we are called to help them see his attributes and his love for us through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the motivator our kids need to lead them into a life of serving.
Be a church who equips.
As a church, it is our duty to provide supplementation to the discipleship happening at home. We do this through offering a children’s ministry that uses gospel saturated curriculum, as well as utilizes volunteers who reinforce the call of Deuteronomy 6. The volunteers running your children’s program should have a passion for teaching Jesus to your little ones. They view their involvement with your children as their mission field in the church, not just babysitting. By striving to involve these kinds of believers in your ministry, the children of your church will see living examples of servants of Christ outside of their family.
Be vision-casters for the broader mission.
The Bible clearly lays out the calling for our lives as believers: GO and make disciples (Matthew 28:16-20). While we all know the places we are called to go to can vary, we cannot know the future for our children and where the Lord will lead them. Exposing them to Christ-servers in every place will help show them how and where the Lord uses his people. In their families, kids should see their parents serving. At church, they see fellow congregants serving. During their youth years, it is likely they will see various domestic missionaries and mission groups. International missions, however, can be very hard to identify with outside of recognizing a face in a picture on a prayer card. This is where we, the church, have an amazing opportunity to expose our young believers to global discipleship. Take advantage of visits from international missionaries by having them spend time in your kids ministry. There is no better way to inspire a child to dream about doing great things for God than to hear real life stories from the people who are acting as His hands and feet abroad on the mission field.
Be culture-makers by encouraging teens to serve.
As pastors, we are not called to be every ministry.
And he gave…shepherds and teachers,to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11–12 ESV)
At our local church, we could not have a successful kids ministry without our teen volunteers. To ensure quality of teaching, as well as appropriate supervision, we do not utilize any teen student-volunteers as lead teacher in any setting. However, teens are invaluable when it comes to organizing games and crafts, as well as engaging the little ones in the classrooms. Many of our teen volunteers come early before church or, at times, on Saturdays to assist getting lessons ready for the next month or the next quarter. It has even become commonplace for our kids ministry graduates (finished 5th grade), to ask to be placed as a student-volunteer the very week following their graduation. Why is that? Because they have related to, worked with, and aspired to become like the teenagers who volunteered in their kid’s ministry classrooms. Our teens model service to the children of our church. They see serving Christ in ministry as a norm, and are eager and excited to continue the discipleship chain by ministering to those younger than themselves.
Just as not every adult may be suited to serve in children’s ministry, not every teen may be either. That is ok. We have teens who have served or are currently serving in children’s check-in and greeting/welcoming. We even had teens who enjoyed serving on our weekly 6am set-up team when our church first launched in its temporary meeting place and our equipment had to be set up and torn down each week. The Lord creates and equips each person differently. Although we have found some practices that have worked for our congregation, please do not assume we have gotten it all figured out. Fighting against screen time and our culture’s self-focused nature is hard. We, the church, are charged with creating an environment conducive for people, including our children and teens, to see the extraordinary power of our great God and for their hearts to be changed by the Gospel. We have seen examples of youth—people like Billy Graham, Amy Carmichael, and Nate Saint—who developed a passion for discipleship at a young age. Jesus changed their hearts. As a result, they carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. May we structure our ministries in a way that our children run to Jesus and eagerly seek ways to bring glory to His name through serving in ministry.