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?
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 ESV
Every year, I ask God for a Word for the year. In 2021, the word was “Get Ready”. Considering all the challenges 2021 held, it was a timely word. Sometimes, I struggle to receive the word God wants to give me because so many things distract me. Other times, God gives me the word fairly quickly. I’ve never experienced a word like I did this time. The word God gave me was like a neon sign. Everywhere I looked, I saw the word. Every sermon I listened to and almost every song I heard had the word. It was even written as notes in Christmas cards I received.
The word I received is JOY. 2022 will be a year of JOY. I speak JOY over each of you, your students, and your ministry.
I am looking forward to 2022 in a new way knowing the LORD will fill us to overflowing with His Joy. That doesn’t mean there won’t be trials, but God will overwhelm us with supernatural joy through the trials.
I’m also looking forward to the plans I am currently working on for Revival Fire for Kids. In 2021, Power Tools, quarter 3 of Building Pentecostal Foundations children’s church curriculum, was published. This year, I will be diligently working on quarter 4 as well as holiday curriculum and other resources.
Revival Fire for Kids is fully open, and we’d love to come to your church for a children’s revival, kid’s crusade, teacher training, or children’s ministry consultation. Please contact me at this email if you are interested in learning more.
I’m also starting a new networking for children’s ministers called Ignite. It will be on a monthly subscription with Zoom meetings with other children’s ministers, private Zoom calls, free resources (including curriculum), and monthly teacher training for church children’s ministries as well as opportunities for online Bible studies and yearly retreats. There will be multiple levels to sign up for depending on your needs, and the first month will be free so you can try it out with no obligation. If you have a children’s ministry consultation with me, you’ll receive the advanced level subscription one year for free. I’ll let you know more within the next month or two, and I’ll have a special Zoom info meeting about it. I just wanted to let you know what is coming.
Remember, 2022 will be a year filled with Joy!
Resolution #1: I resolve to obey God without delay and without consideration for the consequences or lack of resources.
Resolution #2: I resolve to be a student of God’s Word and as I read it to apply it to my life. I will be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only.
Resolution #3: Because I want to spend time regularly with God and develop an intimacy with Him, I will continually be in prayer even when I don’t “feel” like praying.
Resolution #4: I resolve to be a worshipper because God alone is worth of my worship.
Resolution #5: I will not compromise my faith to become more acceptable to the culture. This would include salvation is only through the blood of Jesus Christ, that there is only one road to Heaven, and that what God calls sin is sin.
Resolution #6: I resolve to constantly learn and read.
Resolution #7: I resolve strive to forgive anyone who I become offended with and to resolve any matter where people are offended by me as far as it is up to me.
Resolution #8: I resolve that when I am stressed by everyday life, to be in joy and peace through Jesus Christ.
Resolution #9: I resolve to be expectant and ready for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ at any moment and to live my life that way.
Resolution #10: I resolve to repent as soon as I realize I have failed with one of these resolutions and to return to fellowship with Christ.
I took a Bible class a while ago where I was assigned to write an Epistle to the Church. An Epistle is a letter from an Apostle. I felt so strongly about what I wrote that I wanted to share it. It truly is from my heart and I believe from the heart of God.
My Epistle to the Church
by Tamera Kraft
Dear brothers and sister in Christ. I, Tamera Kraft, apostle to children, greet you as a servant of God called to a ministry that is at the very heart of God – children.
Throughout Scripture, God speaks about the importance of ministry to children. Jesus even rebuked His disciples when they tried to keep children away from Him. In His admonition to Peter, He instructed Peter to feed His sheep twice, but He before He mentioned the sheep, Jesus commanded Peter to feed His lambs, to minister to His children.
One reason children are so important to the heart of God is because they represent the way we should come to God, with humility and dependence. Children depend on adults for everything. Without adults to provide them with care and resources, they could not survive. They bring this same dependence into their relationship with God.
Children are the largest harvest field in the Kingdom of God. According to Brother Barna, 85% of all people who have accepted Christ as their Savior have surrendered their lives to Christ between the ages of four and fourteen. The 15% of the Christian population that has come to know Christ is the exception to the rule and should be considered miracles by the grace of God. Yet many churches put most of their evangelistic efforts and resources into reaching that 15% and ignore the children. This ought not to be. If God has ordained that most people who come to Him are children, we should be reaching out to lost children before we consider evangelizing adults. A whole generation of young adults is lost because, as children, the church didn’t make it a priority to reach them.
This can’t be done through games, fun Bible stories, and crafts alone, nor is teaching children how to be good enough. Children need to be taught that they have sinned and are separated from God forever. They need to be taught that God loves them and wants to restore that relationship. That’s why Jesus died on the cross for them. They need to repent of their sins, receive Jesus as their Savior, and surrender their lives to Him. Being good isn’t enough.
Once we understand the importance of children in the Kingdom of God, we must make special efforts to effectively minister to them. Our best leaders, facilities, resources, and curriculum should be dedicated to ministry to children. Parents play the largest role in discipling their own children, and the church should equip and encourage them to do that. But just as family is not the only resource to minister to adults, there should be church programs to minister to children as well.
Children need to learn the Gospel and be discipled in a way that reaches them at their age level. This doesn’t mean the Gospel should be watered down for children. Children can learn the great truths of the Bible if they are taught those truths in ways they can understand. Just as Jesus rode on a colt into Jerusalem, children can have the full weightiness and glory of God resting on them as children. This means children can be saved. They can be baptized and partake of communion. They can be filled in the Holy Spirit, and they can be full members of the community of God ministering and being ministered to. Children are not the church of tomorrow. They are the church of today. If they are discipled correctly, they will become the leaders of the church tomorrow.
One trend I’ve noticed in the church today is separating children from the community of believers. This should not be. Children need to know they are a part of the church. In the Bible, children were included in prayer meetings, fasts, and times of consecration and celebration. We need to do the same. During the Feast of Tabernacles, all of Israel would come before the Lord to hear the reading of the Law so that the children would hear it and learn to fear the Lord. In Paul’s letters to the Ephesians, he gave instructions directly to the children to obey their parents. He considered them a part of the church that he was writing to.
One of the main reasons, children are not ever included in the main service is for convenience sake. Parents don’t want to deal with disruptions their children might cause, and pastors and church members don’t want children “ruining” the service with too much noise. But children are a part of the church, and they need to be taught how to behave in the main service. How will they know what is expected or participate in the body if they are never discipled in that area?
Another reason children need to be in the main service occasionally is because they are to be examples of worship. When the Pharisees rebuked Jesus for allowing children to praise Him in the temple, Jesus quoted Isaiah saying, “From the lips of infants and children, God has ordained praise.” The word “ordain” here means to lead or begin. How can children do this if they never worship with adults? Also children need to learn how to worship by watching the example of adults in worship. Children learn what they see adults doing.
Children who don’t feel like a part of the church community because they have never been included in the body will leave church when they’re older. Imagine the culture shock of a child who has been in church all of his life but has never been in the main service. He has played games every Sunday, sang active songs, and had every message or Bible story illustrated with a skit, object lesson, or interactive device. Suddenly the child turns ten or twelve, or in some cases eighteen years old. He has graduated to big church. The music is strange. There are no games, skits, or illustrations, only some guy preaching that he’s never met. He doesn’t know any of the people. And there’s no candy. He has never become a part of the body.
Finally, let me encourage you to lead children into the presence of God through example, teaching, and experience. Children who experience a genuine salvation and revival in their hearts at a young age are transformed by being discipled in the Word of God and should become an active part of the body of Christ. These are the ones who will go on to do great things for God throughout their lives.
*Feel free to share this post on your blogs and social media, but please give me credit by pasting the following at the end of your posts.
Used by permission of Tamera Kraft, Revival Fire for Kids. Reprint from http://revivalfire4kids.com