Does Your Kidmin Emphasis Head Knowledge or Heart Knowledge?

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.

Are You Discipling Your Students?

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?

Is Your Children’s Ministry Teaching Universalism

Universalism is one of the greatest threats to Christianity in our time. Universalism believes almost everyone is going to Heaven. Hell either only exists for really bad people like Hitler, or it doesn’t exist at all.

The Bible clearly teaches Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no-one goes to the Father except through Him. Universalism declares the Bible is inspired by God but not God-breathed. They believe parts like like loving your neighbor, but those parts about Hell and immorality they consider old concepts that are to be dismissed.

God does love mankind. That’s why He died on the cross for our sins. But He is a holy and just God who can’t allow sin. That’s why Jesus died for our sin. Most children’s pastors don’t believe universalism, but they have allowed some of it to creep into their ministries.

Here are some of the ways to know if universalism has crept into your children’s ministry and your church.

Doctrine is not taught. Children grow up not knowing doctrinal truths or why they believe what they believe. We teach cool lesson and play fun games instead of teaching what the Bible says. They are taught they should love God and others, but without doctrinal truths to build their faith on, they will be swayed by any lie. It’s not that we can’t ever have fun games or teach the Bible in cool ways, but we need to teach doctrine.

Children are taught to be good. There’s nothing wrong with teaching children our values, but if we teach them the goal is to be good or good enough, we’re teaching them another way of salvation other than through Jesus Christ. We’re teaching them we can be good enough on our own. If we introduce them to Christ, He will convict and convince them when it comes to morality.

Children aren’t taught to memorize Scripture. Remember in the past, during Sunday School, where we would get prizes for memorizing Scripture. Teachers drilled the Word of God into the hearts of children so they would know the truth when a lie was presented. When we don’t expect children to read of memorize Bible verses, they won’t know the truth. It isn’t unreasonable to expect them to learn Scripture when teachers expect hours of homework every night.

Being successful in the world has become more important than following after God. When we keep children home from church to do their homework or to play a sport, aren’t we doing that? The church community used to be important to Christians. It was what the early church was built upon. Now we teach children church isn’t that important. If church isn’t important, children will come to believe God isn’t important.

Evangelism isn’t stressed. The martyrs of the early church died to share the Gospel of Christ. It is sometimes said the church was built on the blood of the saints. Many churches never mention the martyrs, even the ones in the Bible. They encourage children not to talk about Christianity, or they teach that we all worship the same God. We don’t.

Children aren’t included in prayer and worship. It used to be children were included when a church had a prayer meeting or a worship night. They were taught how to pray and expected to pray, and they were expected to worship during worship times. Now, they never have the opportunity in church to pray for anyone, and if they ever are in the main service, they sit or play during worship time instead of being encouraged to participate.

These are some of the ways children’s ministries and the church have failed children. Is it any wonder they fall away when they’re older. They never knew the real Christ to begin with. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

3 Questions to Ask When Preparing Your Kidmin Children’s Ministry Lesson

The most effective lessons are the ones learned by the teacher/pastor first. Here are three questions to ask yourself when preparing a lesson for your students.

What difference does this Bible truth make in my own life?

What must I do to incorporate that Scripture into my everyday experience?

What shall I share from my own spiritual life that will help clarify those Biblical truths to my students?

3 Wrong Reasons and 3 Right Reasons for Kidmin Children’s Ministry

There are many reasons to have children’s ministry, but many times, churches set up children’s ministry for the wrong reason. Here are three wrong reason to have children’s church and three right reasons to have children’s ministry.

Wrong Reasons:

Parents want to enjoy the service.  This is the reason most churches have children’s church during the adult service, and there’s nothing wrong with parents wanting to enjoy the service. The problem is children’s church is to minister to children, not adults.

We need something for the children to attract adults to the church. Again this focuses in on the adults. Great children’s ministries do attract adults to church, but that’s a byproduct. The reason to minister to children is to draw children into the presence of God.

We want to teach children about God so that when they are older, they will serve Him. This sounds good on the surface. Who doesn’t want children serving God when they’re older. The problem with this reasoning is children are the church of today, not tomorrow. An effective children’s ministry will strive to create an atmosphere where children don’t wait until they’re grown up to serve God. They will serve God as children.

Right Reasons:

Children are a part of the body of Christ and should have a worship service they can relate to. There is nothing wrong with including children in all church services, but sometimes church in the main sanctuary doesn’t focus on children, and they don’t feel a part of what’s going on. Children’s church gives them an opportunity to learn to worship in a way they can relate to. The problem comes when children are always segregated from adults in church. There should be room for both.

85% of all Christians are saved between the age of 4 and 14 years old. This statistic tells us that if we want to have effective evangelism, we need to start with children. It is the norm for a Christian to become a Christian at a young age. If you wait until they’re teens or adults, you’ve missed a prime opportunity.

Children need to be saved, sanctified, and serving in the church. In other words, children need to be discipled. That is one of the main purposes for children’s ministry in the local church.

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.”