Category Archives: Discipling Children

Kidmin Pastors Try Too Hard

We’ve all been there. We want to provide a great children’s program where students learn to love God and operate in the Holy Spirit. We want to make sure every class is manned with competent teachers. We work hard to plan effective outreaches to reach the community. And we do this all while trying to keep up with all the work involved with keeping up with running one of the largest ministries in the church. But are you trying too hard to juggle all the balls in a way God never expected?

None of these things are wrong. Scripture instructs us to not be weary in well doing. If you do all these things to build the Kingdom of God in the lives of children, you are doing a good work and will be rewarded for it. So what do I mean by trying too hard?

The problem comes when we don’t abide in Christ. If we abide in Christ with all we do, we will be effective and reap a harvest, but if we try to do all these things without abiding in Christ, all we’ll get is tired.

John 15:4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

The problem comes when we don’t understand how to abide in Christ. Abiding in Christ isn’t a checklist we do to get God to move in our lives. Abiding in Christ is yielding to His will and allowing Him to move through us. But how do we do this?

138Recognize that without Christ, you can do nothing. It doesn’t matter how great you are as a children’s pastor, how long you’ve been at it, or how skilled you are. Without Christ, you can do nothing of value. Your effectiveness comes from Him.

John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Do what God wants, not what sounds good. Many times, children’s pastors go to conferences, talk to their peers, and read books on children’s ministry to get good ideas on what they should do. None of these things are wrong. But if the latest fad or book is what is driving your ministry, you will be spinning your wheels. Your main job is to find out what God wants you to do in ministry and do it. We show our love for God through our obedience. Sometimes God will use a book or conference to speak, but make sure it is God speaking.

John 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

Kids studying bibleLove your students. If you are abiding in Christ, your students will know the love of God through you. If you have problems with certain children, ask God to give you His love for them.

1 Corinthians 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

A blue person stands out in a crowd holding a sign with the word God on it, spreading the holy teachings of the church and trying to convert others to a belief or faithRemember that it is God’s ministry, not yours. You did not choose to be a children’s pastor because there was a need in the church or as a stepping stone to “real” ministry. If you are a children’s pastor, it is because God chose you to work through to pastor His children.

John 15:15 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

kid-worship-620x335Be filled with joy. If you are abiding in Christ and doing the ministry He chose you for, then you joy will be complete and you will eventually bear fruit. If you are lacking in joy or in fruit bearing, ask God to show you where you need to abide in Him.

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

5 Ways to Lead Children into a Heart Knowledge of God

Teaching the Bible systematically to children is important. I go so far to say it’s essential to have children grow up knowing the Word of God, but it’s not enough. Children need to have a heart knowledge of God even more than they need head knowledge. Children need to internalize the truths they learn and make them they’re own. To do this, they need to have their own relationship with God. Here’s some things to consider to determine if the children in your ministry have a heart knowledge.

WishingSalvation: Too many ministries focus on helping children know how to be good according to the Bible. It’s important for children to know what God expects from them, but they can never be good enough to please God. Children need to know that they are sinners and that Christ died for them so they could be set free from the curse of sin. He took their punishment. Until they give their sin to Him, they will never be saved no matter how good they are or how often they attend church.

Depositphotos_69423471_originalChanged Lives: Children need to know that when they are saved, their lives will change. They will want to please God and stay away from sin, and when they do sin, they can go to God to make it right. All morality and good works should stem from their relationship with God, not from trying to do good works or check the boxes to be a “good” Christian.

Cute african girlA Living Sacrifice: We need to teach children to understand that when they are saved, they’re giving their lives to God. God now has control and has a direction for their lives they need to follow. The more children yield to the direction of the Holy Spirit in their lives, the stronger they will grow spiritually.

Revival Celebration 1.2bHoly Spirit: Children don’t have a junior Holy Spirit. God has provided the fullness of the Holy Spirit in every Christian’s life regardless of age. We need to teach our children to seek the fullness of the Holy Spirit and to yield to His direction in their lives. As they are continually being filled with the Holy Spirit, they can expect to be filled with love, grace, joy, peace, and power in their lives. The more they yield, the more they’ll be filled.

Revival Celebration 2.6Relationship: We need to teach children that once they are saved, they have a right relationship with the God who created the universe. They can talk to Him through prayer. They can get guidance from Him through the Bible. They can ask Him anything, and He will answer. They can fellowship with Him and come into His presence through praise and worship. When children have a relationship like this with God, they won’t fall away as teenagers or adults. They will stand firm through all the trials of life.

5 Ways to Encourage Children in Spiritual Gifts

Revival Celebration 2.6We’ve all seen videos of children in other churches preaching, teaching, prophesying, and laying hands on people, but many children’s pastors haven’t seen those gifts operational through children in their churches. Here are 3 ways to encourage children to develop and use their spiritual gifts.

Teach children about the spiritual gifts. The first step is to teach children what spiritual gifts are, where they are in the Bible, how they are operating in the church today, and that they are for everyone regardless of age.

Little boy praying with the Bible in hand

Give children instruction on using spiritual gifts. If your students are not familiar with using spiritual gifts, they will need encouragement and instruction. Don’t expect perfection from them, and don’t shut them down if they make mistakes. Mentor them through it.

Show children through example. If spiritual gifts aren’t operating through you during children’s services, you can’t expect the children in your ministry to go places you haven’t been. Pray for God to use you in supernatural ways.

Give children opportunities to minister. I sometimes ask children to pray at the altar for other. I’ve asked children if they have a word for the congregation. I’ve also asked if any of them have a message they would like to preach.

Revival Celebration 1.2bDon’t worry about it being messy. Children will make mistakes. That’s how they learn. Revival is messy, and sometimes you have to work through the mess, but don’t stop what God is doing because sometimes things get out of hand. Wildfire is easier to control than it is to get a fire started with wet wood.

3 Essential Steps to Having an Effective Children’s Ministry

2015-05-30 19.21.45Most children’s ministers would say, if asked, that they desire their ministries to be effective in the Kingdom of God. They want to make a lasting impression on the students they reach. Books, blog posts, and magazines on children’s ministry all promise to have the secret to an effective children’s ministry. Most have helpful information, but children’s ministers struggle to know they are making a difference.

As impossible as it is to believe, there is a formula out there for being effective in the Kingdom of God. There are only three essential things you need to do to become effective in children’s ministry. If you do these, everything will fall into place.

Children's Church altar call from 15 years ago

Children’s Church altar call from 15 years ago

My Story: Before I tell you what the formula is, let me explain how I learned it. When I became a children’s pastor, I had no formal training, no mentoring, and I’d only worked in children’s ministry for a few months. Basically I didn’t know what I was doing. At first, I thought I was placed in this position because the church needed help, and I was available. It wasn’t until almost a year later that I knew I was called to children’s ministry.

childenschurch2Years later, over 50% of those children in my first children’s church class are in full time or part time ministry today. Most are living for God and working in their local churches. So how did I manage to become an effective children’s minister with a ministry that grew and children who became fully devoted disciples of Christ?

It wasn’t what I knew. Later on, I would study and go to conferences. I would read the books and learn how to “do” children’s ministry. I even spent years studying and getting advanced certification in Children’s Ministry. But back then, I was clueless.

It wasn’t because I had tons of resources or workers. I lacked workers just like everyone else, and my church had so little money, I asked parents for donations so that I could buy a $30 manual. Within a year or two, I had a sound system, television, a few puppets, and some cassette music tapes donated to me. I didn’t have enough for curriculum, so I started writing my own.

So are you curious now? Here are the three things I did that made me successful when I had nothing else going for me.

1. I spent time in the presence of God. Every day, I would wake up early. I’d read my Bible and I’d pray. I also fasted once a week. And I got rid of everything in my life that hindered my walk with God.

2. I asked God what He wanted me to do next. I learned what programs worked and what teaching was effective by asking God, “What do you want me to do next?” He would tell me, then later, I found out the things I was doing were considered radical and cutting edge. People were amazed, but it wasn’t me. It was God.

3. I obeyed God. I did what He said, not only when it was easy, but when it was hard. Sometimes He would want me to jump out of the boat when all I had to walk on was water. Other times, He would tell me to be patient and hold off on something until He knew the timing was right. I’d like to say I always did this. Sometimes I failed. But things went so much better when I obeyed God.

You may be thinking it couldn’t be that easy. It’s not easy, but it is simple.

By the way, now that I have all the learning and experience and have started my own ministry, I’ve found the best ways to be an effective children’s ministry consultant, evangelist, and workshop leader are the same things that helped me be an effective children’s minister.

When I stray from doing these things and rely on what “I know”, everything looks good on the outside, but the effectiveness begins to wane. Things just seem off. Soon I find myself repenting before God and returning to where I began.

I have however added one step.

  1. Spend time with God.
  2. Ask God what He wants you to do.
  3. Obey God.
  4. Repeat.

So now you know my secret.

Are You Leading Your Own Children to Christ?

Proverbs 22:6  Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Those of us who are busy ministering to the world need to be careful that our priority is to lead our own children to Christ. One third of all pastors say their grown children are no longer actively serving in the church. 40% say their grown children have gone through a period of profound doubt. While we can’t control the decisions our grown children make, we can do everything within our ability to make sure our children decide to be radical Christ followers. Here are some ideas on how to do that.

Cowboy and boyLead by example. Our children know what we are really like. We can be super spiritual at church, but they see us behind closed doors. Live a life that makes your children want to follow after Christ.

Use teachable moments. Look for opportunities to share testimonies with your children or to talk about how the Bible addresses every day situations.

Spend time with them. If you are always ministering to others and never spending time with your own children, they will consider you a hypocrite.

WishingLead your children to Christ. Constantly share the Gospel message to your children, and when they start to ask questions, lead them in the sinner’s prayer. Don’t wait until they are ten, twelve, or fifteen years old. My children were age three and four when they were saved. 85% of all Christians are saved between the ages of four and fourteen, and most who were raised in Christian homes are saved by the age of eight.

Encourage your children to grow in the faith. Read the Bible to them. When they are old enough, teach them to read it. Teach them to pray for themselves and others, and give them opportunities to lead the family in prayer. Have them help you do ministry. Make it so being a disciple of Christ is normal life.

Kids at the Cross of Jesus ChristTeach principles, not rules. Of course you will have rules for your children, but also teach the principles behind those rules. As they grow older, teach them to develop their own convictions based on those principles.

When your children have questions, answer truthfully. Sometimes the answer is, “I don’t know, but I trust God to work things out for the good.”