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.
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.
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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.
Jeremiah 2:13 (NKJV) For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.
As children’s pastors, it’s important to keep filling ourselves up. If we continue to pour out without pouring in, we can become spiritually dehydrated and start drinking from broken cisterns. Broken cisterns are things that satisfy us or keep us going for the moment but don’t fill us up or satisfy our thirst. We need instead to drink living water.
Here are 7 ways to know you are spiritually dehydrated.
You have disengaged. Church life is meant to do together. When we are drinking from the living waters of the Holy Spirit, we will want to engage with the church body. When we disengage from the body of Christ, it’s one sign we are spiritually dehydrated.
Your emotions are blunted. If you seem to be in a daze, and you don’t feel the presence of God anymore, that is a sign you might be spiritually dehydrated.
You’ve lost your hope. What do you put your hope in when you wake up in the morning? What are you looking forward to? If you can’t answer, you may be spiritually dehydrated.
You feel helpless. Depression is widespread in our culture today. We now know that most depression has a physical component to it. If you feel helpless and depressed, you should see a medical professional. That being said, the more you are spiritually dehydrated, the more you are susceptible to feeling of hopelessness and depression.
You don’t want to spend time reading your Bible, praying, or worshiping. It becomes a chore. That is a sign of being spiritually dehydrated.
You don’t have any joy. The joy of the Lord is your strength. If your joy has been sapped, it shows you need to be filled from the living fountain.
You are going through the motions. All of the things above can cause us to lose out sense of purpose. When that happens, you can come to the place where you are running on empty. You need your spirit refreshed with living waters from the throne room of God.
What to do if you are spiritually dehydrated:
First admit the truth to God, yourself, and your spiritual leaders or mentors. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed. Many spiritual leaders have gone through this dark night of the soul. I have. That’s why I can show you what to do. After your leaders know the situation and are covering you in prayer, ask God to fill you with His living waters. Ask Him to fill the dry places of your soul. Spend time saturating yourself in the presence of God. Play worship music. And wait. It might take some time, but God will fill you to overflowing.
Acts 3:19 (NKJV) Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
John 7:38 (NKJV) He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.
Ephesians 3:14-19 (NKJV) For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 5:18 (NKJV) And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.
Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
2018 is upon us, and one of the greatest things you can do this year is to start a ministry journal. Ministry journals are different than personal journals. You can use them to record valuable information every time you minister. Whatever you want to remember, what you want to improve, how your students responded, etc., you will end up forgetting as soon as life takes over. With a ministry journal, you can look back and refresh those moments.
You can start a ministry journal online and use your phone or IPad immediately after service or you can carry a journal to church. Every time you minister, write in the journal within one hour of service. You don’t have to write a lot, but the information gleaned from these observations will become invaluable to you throughout the year.
Here are some ideas of things to write in your journal:
Successes: Write down any successes such as salvations, a record number of people, responses to the message, etc.
What Worked: If you used an object lesson or a song that really went over well, write it down along with why you think it worked.
Challenges: If anything went wrong or you saw something that needed improved, write it down.
Failures: If you believe you failed in some way, write it down. But don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead write down why it failed and go on.
General Impressions: Write down any general impressions you had about the service.
Review what you wrote later in the week. Don’t read your notes on Monday or you’ll become discouraged. But latter in the week, around Wednesday, read your notes about Sunday and see what you can glean from them.
Review your journal quarterly. Read about your successes and record salvations and testimonies to share with the church. Read the failures and challenges to see if you’ve made progress in those areas and what you need to do to improve.
Here are some New Years Resolutions for Children’s Pastors to consider making.
1 I will make my relationship with God a greater priority than the ministry God has given me. I do this knowing I can’t introduce children to God when I don’t spend any time with Him.
2 I will be filled with joy this year knowing that the Joy of the Lord is my strength.
3 I will ask God to help me love children who irritate me and cause behavior problem with the same love He has for them.
4 I will first ask for a revelation from God before I deliver any lesson or message to my students.
5 I will pray and seek God’s guidance in what direction to go in my ministry instead of just jumping on board the latest fad I learned at a conference. I will seek God for a word and make sure I focus on that word throughout the year.
6 I will review policies and procedures to make sure students in my ministry are in a safe environment.
7 I will disciple my workers and develop a children’s ministry team instead of being a Lone Ranger in ministry.
8 I will provide opportunities for children to experience God by giving them opportunities to minister, emphasizing worship and discipleship, and providing altar ministry at the end of every message.
9 I will not teach children to be good. I will teach them to know God. There’s a difference.
10 I will evaluate every area of my ministry to see if it follows the other nine resolutions. This may mean we play less games or get rid of snack time. It might mean replacing a teacher who “doesn’t get it.” I might need different curriculum. I might need to nix some “sacred cow” programs. Whatever I need to do, I will make the difficult choices.
Every year, I pray to receive a word for the next year. This year, I couldn’t quite figure it out. I knew it would be a year of new beginnings, a year of expanding my territory and doing new things.
It didn’t take much figuring for all of this. Revival Fire for Kids is moving to Georgetown, Tennessee. My husband and I bought 23.6 acres there, and our house is almost finished. The possibilities for being in the middle of the Eastern US, at the buckle of the Bible Belt, and having so much room to do ministry, (ie: kid’s ministry camps, training, retreats, etc). are endless, but that’s not all of it.
I also knew it would be a year where God fills me with abundant joy like I’ve never known. To top it off, I believe the last Great Awakening is coming to our land and will start with children. God is about to pour out His Spirit in unprecedented ways.
That’s when I knew I had it – the word for 2018. My church leadership had decided on the word, unprecedented. When they first came up with that word, I had to mull it over a bit. Now I know, UNPRECEDENTED is not just a word for my church. It is my Word from God for 2018.
What I am expecting from God this year in my ministry, family, and nation, even in the world, is unprecedented in my lifetime. Here’s the verse for it.
“Remember not the former things,nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing;now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wildernessand rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me;the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness,rivers in the desert,to give drink to my chosen people,the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.”
I’ll talk more about how I believe God is going to do the unprecedented in my life on my blog this week. So how do you believe God will do the unprecedented in your life in 2018?
I have promised all of you there will be changes taking place in Revival Fire for Kids in 2018. One of those changes is I want to go on a journey of discipleship with some of you. This discipleship will include a private FB group, email newsletters, and one-on-one mentoring. I warn you this won’t be for the faint of heart.
Part of this discipleship will be information I give in my children’s ministry consultations that will give you hands on help to evaluate and improve your children’s ministry.
One thing we will be involved in is a Bible study on the heart of revival. It will include stirring revival in our hearts as well as how to translate it into the hearts of our students.
I also will have some info about leadership and other great tips for children’s ministry as well as the first four lessons of my new curriculum coming soon for free.
You’ll be a part of a private FB group where we can all discuss our concerns in children’s ministry without anyone outside the group knowing about them. It will be a place to vent, to get feedback from other children’s pastors, and to share your concerns.
I also want to get to know all of your on a one-on-one basis. If you have a private concern or just want to share some good news, I’ll welcome you to Skype or FaceTime me or email me.
This year, I am offering this discipleship for free because I want the opportunity to share what I’ve learned in 30 years of children’s ministry. I’ll need to limit this to 20 people though. Hopefully you will be one of those people.
To sign up for this discipleship, fill out the form at this link.