Paul is prepared for children’s church every week. The children are excited and can’t wait to see what he has planned. They have fun playing the elaborate games. They ooh and ahh over the gospel illusions and creative object lessons. They love the motions to the activity songs. It’s even fun listening to the illustrated Bible stories.
However, Paul is frustrated because the children in his children’s ministry don’t really grow spiritually. Week after week they come and enjoy themselves. Paul doesn’t seem to be making a lasting impact upon their lives, and he doesn’t know what to do about it.
Jim also uses games, gospel illusions, and creative teaching techniques, but the children in his ministry are growing spiritually. Brittany’s mom came to him last week to thank him. Brittany went to her mom after being convicted in children’s church for being disrespectful and asked her mother’s forgiveness.
Tommy led four of his classmates to the Lord and brings visitors almost every week. Kyle asked Jim last week if there was anything he could pray with him about. He told Jim that he felt led by God to be a prayer support for him. When an altar call is given, children swarm to the altar to pray for other children who go to the altar.
What makes the difference between Paul’s and Jim’s ministries? They both do pretty much the same thing in children’s church. They spend the same amount of time preparing and praying. But there’s a major difference in the children. The reason is that Jim disciples the children. Paul teaches a lesson every week, but he’s more concerned with entertaining the children than discipling them.
Ephesians 4:11-12 (NIV) says “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
A pastor’s primary job is, not to preach, but to prepare God’s people for works of service. In other words, a pastor’s primary responsibility is to disciple his congregation to do ministry. If that’s true, then a children’s pastor’s primary responsibility is to disciple or prepare children to do ministry.
Here are three steps you can take to disciple the children in your ministry:
Disciple children in prayer. Teach your children to pray. Then let them have opportunities to pray. Too often we let children pray, and we comment on how cute their prayers are. When we do that, we reduce their prayers to entertainment. We should be teaching are children how to reach heaven with their prayers. We should be encouraging them to pray every day, and we should give them something to pray about.
When I need healing, I ask children to lay hands on me and pray for my body. I teach them scriptures to pray over me. When I need encouragement, I ask children to pray for me. When I need wisdom, you guessed it, I ask children to pray for me. I teach them how to pray, what scriptures to use, and then I ask them to pray. I don’t ask them to pray because it’s cute or because that’s just what we do. I ask them to reach heaven for me.
Disciple children in evangelism. Teach your children to witness. Teach them to share the message. Teach them the scriptures to use. Give them illustrations to use when they witness. Then take them places where they can have the opportunity to share their faith.
One easy tool to help children learn to witness is the witness bracelet. You can purchase these or have the children make them. Just like the wordless book, they use colors convey salvation. Yellow represents heaven where God lives and wants us to someday live. Black represents the sin that stops us from living with God in heaven. Red is the blood of Jesus that was shed for our sins. White means that, if we ask Jesus to forgive us, He will cleanse us as white as snow. Green means we need to grow in our faith.
There are many places you can go to give children an opportunity to share their faith. You can have them help with a benevolence ministry, or take them to a nursing home, or you can take them to the park for a day, instructing them to look for opportunities to witness.
Disciple children in service. Many in the church have the habit of telling children to sit and be quiet until they’re eighteen years old. Then when they reach adulthood, the same people will complain that all they do is sit in the pews and listen. If we are to disciple a generation to serve God, we need to start when they are young.
Think about the things that need to be done in your children’s ministry. Do you need someone to run the sound? Train a group of children to do it. Do you need people who are gifted in helps to take attendance, check children in, set up chairs, and tear down after church? Again, train children to do it.
The opportunities for children to serve in the church are only limited by your understanding of how much a child is capable of doing. I have used children for sound, Power Point, registration, praise and worship leaders, altar workers, skits, object lessons, puppets, monitors, and many other things. I’ve even had eleven and twelve year olds preach for me in children’s church. You heard me right. They preached. Those children are now adults who are in full time ministry.
There are other areas that children can be discipled in also. The only limitations are the ones we choose to place on our children. When they are discipled in ministry, something amazing happens. Children grow closer to God. They learn to listen for His voice. They learn that God can use them. He has a plan for their lives. So which are you doing? Are you entertaining children or are you discipling them?