7 Things Every Church Member Needs to Know About Children’s Ministry
- Children’s Ministry is NOT childcare! Webster’s Dictionary defines childcare as “the care of children, especially as a service while parents are working.” That is far from anything we do in the church. Even our babies are being prayed over, told Jesus loves them, we’re playing Christian music in the background, and more. NO PART OF CHILDREN’S MINISTRY IS CHILDCARE! That’s why you will NEVER hear me use that word. For example, we have a Parenting Conference coming up. If parents need a place for their kids, we have Children’s Ministry for them, not childcare. On the form, it will not ask about childcare, but it will ask if Children’s Ministry is needed. Yes, even that night, they will get a lesson. Every single time a child comes through our doors, they will get a Bible lesson. They will be discipled. That’s what we do. We meet families where they are and point them to Jesus. Okay, rant over. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there.
- Apologetics starts in preschool. What?! You’re teaching apologetics in preschool? Not in the sense you’re thinking—but, yes, we teach the why behind Scripture. It looks very different from an adult sitting in classroom. We’ll use toys, games, and illustrations to help make our point. And we don’t use the word apologetics because that’s a big word for a 3-year-old, but that’s exactly what we’re doing. If we want the future of our church to be filled with men and women who stand by the Word of God, we must teach them Scripture and how to defend it when they’re little. Apologetics is not something you learn overnight but over time.
- Kids can go deeper in Scripture than you think. You might ask how I know that. My answer to you would be because I’ve seen it. Our Children’s Ministry typically takes Wednesday nights as a time to work through a book of the Bible, verse-by-verse. Even in Kids Ministry, I believe in expository teaching when it’s possible. We go through an entire book of the Bible, and it gives the kids a greater picture of Scripture and helps them see how each book connects to the Bible as one big story. Now, we don’t do this in every situation. On Sunday mornings, we use Gospel Project (which takes kids through the whole Bible chronologically but is not every chapter and verse). But when we have the chance, we like to set curriculum aside and just read Scripture. Of course, these lessons are tailored to children and what they are facing. It’s not taught the same way as an adult class or even preaching on Sunday morning. But I’ve seen so much good fruit come from it. And my volunteers have said this is their favorite way to teach on Wednesday nights.
- The future is hopeful. I hear so many people knock this generation (not necessarily our church but the church as a whole). They say we’re doomed. While I understand the world is filled with evil and it seems to be getting worse, we must remember that Jesus is still on the throne. Because of that, He is still at work. As I watch the kids at MPBC and other local churches, I am encouraged to see so many children want to follow Jesus. Our hope is not in the current events around the world. It’s not found in the White House or local government. Our hope is in Jesus alone, and I see Him raising up a generation ready to take that baton of faith. It’s not just something I hope—it’s something I am seeing firsthand as I daily interact with the kids at our church. The next time you get the chance, encourage a young child or teen. Let them know you noticed something good they did. Build them up. Most importantly, put your confidence in Jesus and the fact that He is working in young hearts.
- Children can understand the gospel and decide to follow Jesus. Please don’t say they’re too young—they’re not. They are capable of understanding. Again, I’ve seen this firsthand. I’ve seen kids accept Jesus and their lives were completely changed. They became a changed kid. I see the fruits of the Spirit in their lives. I’ve watched kids share the gospel on the streets and pray for people to accept Christ. I’ve watched their spiritual gifts develop as they serve the Lord. They’re burdened for the lost. If you were to say any of these things about an adult, you would say it’s evident they know Jesus. Why is it that we doubt when a child says they’re saved? There is no such thing as a Junior Holy Spirit. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave lives inside these boys and girls who have placed their trust in Him.
- Every member should be involved in Kids Ministry. Before you start screaming, let me explain myself. Maybe you can’t serve in person because of other commitments or calling to a different ministry. But EVERY SINGLE PERSON should be praying for their Children’s Ministry. That is something everybody can do. Prayer is an act of service. Our kids and leaders need your prayers. Not everyone is called to teach/assist in Kids Ministry, but I believe it is every believer’s calling to pray for these children. Your prayers make a big impact! My focus for this one was to encourage everyone to pray because it’s so important, but you can also serve kids in-person if you feel led to do so. There’s always something (Sunday morning, Easter Egg Hunt, Sports & More, Good News Club, etc.) where we are looking for people to be the hands and feet of Jesus. But if you can do nothing else, please pray!
- Sometimes, a little chaos is good. What I mean is children will do childish things. They will be loud. They will be disruptive. They will make messes. They will misbehave. They will cry in the middle of the service. Just like us, kids are not perfect, and we can’t expect perfection from them. The next time you hear a child being loud, see a nerf dart on the floor, or watch a child spill their drink on the new carpet, I encourage you to thank the Lord that your church has young life. That is a blessing, not an inconvenience. A church without children has no future. Let’s welcome our young families and encourage those parents. It’s no easy task getting your kids dressed and ready for church. Celebrate those parents who are making church a priority. Thank the Lord for a church with tiny fingerprints on the walls and a little chaos.
Building His Kingdom,
Pastor Garrett Oppel
5 Ways to Intentionally Disciple Your Children
Being a parent comes with a long list of responsibilities. Getting your kids registered in the right school, teaching them responsibility, giving them three meals a day, driving them to endless sports games, the list goes on and on. However, the biggest challenge of being a parent is shepherding your child’s heart into a relationship with God. After all, God has called you to be the primary disciple maker in your child’s life. Not the Children’s Pastor, but you!
Now, I don’t claim to know everything about raising children to follow Christ. After all, I don’t have kids myself. But since God has called me to be a Children’s Pastor, I feel that the Lord has given me some wisdom and insight to reaching families in the Name of Jesus. Here are five ways I have found parents can intentionally disciple their children and encourage them to have lifelong relationship with Christ.
1) The most obvious and also one of the most important—prayer.
As Christians, we say this all the time. We have to spend time with God in prayer. I feel like a broken record at times because I’m always telling the kids how important this part of their life is to their relationship with God. As a parent, it’s so important that you lift up your child in prayer every single day. I’m not talking about a quick prayer at night before you go to bed. I’m talking about fervently praying for your child that God will guide their every step. Pray that your child will have a desire to know God better, boldness in sharing their faith, a sensitivity to the Spirit working in their life, and even for their future spouse. It’s never too early to pray that God will lead them into a God-honoring relationship with the right person. But don’t just pray for your child, but also pray for yourself as you parent your children. After all, you can’t do it alone and you need wisdom from the Lord.
2) Have an ongoing conversation with your kids about God.
You shouldn’t only talk about God on your way to church and the ride home. Keep God a part of your everyday conversations with your kids. As it says in Deuteronomy 6:7 (ESV), “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.” I send out a weekly email to parents that describes what their kids learned on Sunday and different conversation starters to have with their kids on what they learned. The fact is that your kids will forget most of what they learned on Sunday if you don’t follow-up with them. Children learn best through repetition, so continue to talk to your kids about what they’re learning at church. A growing relationship with Christ starts at home.
3) Regularly attend church and get involved.
I know you probably think I’m a little biased in this area because I’m a Pastor, but this really is true. Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV) says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Church is a place where we can meet friends that will encourage us to walk with the Lord, provide a God-centered place for community, and surround your children with volunteers who so faithfully teach your kids about our Lord and Savior. When you put other things ahead of church, you are saying that church isn’t all that important. It’s just something you do when you have extra time. Combine your influence with the influence of the church and we can work together to raise up a generation for Christ. On top of that, your kids should see mom and dad serving in the church. Get plugged in somewhere and use the gifts God has given you. Your kids will see your service to God and they’ll even be proud of how you’re serving. I’ve heard several kids bragging about how their dad teaches the High School students Sunday School class, their mom leading a missions trip, etc. They do notice your dedication and they’re excited to tell others. Lastly, I even suggest getting your kids to serve with you. When a missions opportunity comes up, sign your family up and get involved. Teaching your children how to serve at an early age is always healthy.
4) Spend time in the Word of God.
Okay, this is another one that may be obvious, but it’s also not easy. We get so busy in the craziness of life that this sometimes gets pushed to the backburner. However, a love for Jesus starts with the right relationship with Him. Of course, it’s vitally important to spend time reading through the Word of God as a family. But in order to be able to pour into the lives of your kids, you must be filled with the Word of God yourself. That means spending one-on-one time with Him daily. As the Lord fills you and speaks to you, you will be better equipped to lead your family into a relationship with Jesus.
5) Eat dinner together regularly.
When you eat dinner around the table as a family, it creates a time for great conversations and brings everyone closer together. It doesn’t even have to be a home cooked meal every time; it could be something as simple as getting take-out and bringing it home. The point is to be together and develop deeper relationships with your kids. The Family Dinner Project did some research on this subject and found that many families who sit around the dinner table together have kids with higher academic performances, higher self-esteem, lower risk of depression, and lower risk of substance abuse, just to name a few. There will be days when you’re not all together for dinner for various reasons. That’s understandable; it’s just life. But don’t allow it to become a daily occurrence. Make eating together a priority.
However, if you do have depression, we suggest you to look for an online retailer and buy a natural treatment for it.
These are just a few suggestions and I’m sure you can think of a few more. What I want you to do is think about how you can be proactive in bringing up your children to have a love for Jesus. I believe that this upcoming generation has the potential to bring about great change in this country and all over the world. However, they need some guidance and direction now when they’re young. Kids need their parents to step-up and take control of their spiritual development. Don’t put it off—start today!
For His Glory,