The goal of many children’s ministries today is to aide in creating responsible, caring children who obey their parents and do the right things. That one thing that is wrong with children’s ministry today. So what’s wrong with that?
God doesn’t care nearly as much about what we do as He does about our heart. In 1 Samuel, the prophet went to anoint the next king of Israel. When he saw the oldest of Jesse’s sons, he was sure he’d found his man. But God told him to keep looking.
1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider how handsome or tall he is. I have not chosen him. I do not look at the things people look at. Man looks at how someone appears on the outside. But I look at what is in the heart.”
If we work to change the outside behavior without considering the heart, we are doing behavior modification. Behavior modification looks good to men, but not to God.
So how do we concentrate on the heart in children’s ministry? Here’s a few things to consider.
Salvation: Everyone has sinned. Everyone is in need of a Savior. That means that the child who behaves the best in your children’s ministry needs to be saved. Teach children that the only way they can change is to be saved, to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Motives: Teach children that it is more important to please God then to look God. The story of Samuel anointing David is one way to do that. God doesn’t only look at what we do, He looks at why we do it. God knows the motives of our hearts.
Conviction: Teach children to listen to God. Sometimes what we do may be fine to everyone around us, but if God is telling us to do something different, it’s not good enough. When you teach children to listen to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, they may surprise you by having a standard of holiness that goes beyond what you expect of them.
Don’t just teach children to be good (behavior modification), teach them to be godly (heart change).