Word for 2017

There are some years God gives me a word for Revival Fire for Kids. In 2017, He’s given me several words. It has become like an explosion in my spirit. I believe 2017 will be a year like none other. Here are some of the things God is showing me.

Person Holding Sign Spreading Word of GodGod-centered:

John 15:4-5  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

God has been speaking this to me for a while now, and it has revolutionized my understanding of how to “do” ministry. For too long, we have operated our ministries in a man-centered way. Yes, we’ve admitted God is sovereign and in the center of everything, but do we act like this is true?

Do we seek God’s guidance on what to do next and what plans to make and events to have, or do we do what we’ve always done in the past? Do we get our marching instructions by spending time in the presence of God, or do we follow the advice of a “successful” children minister who wrote a new book?

What do we consider successful? To God, success is not measured by the results. It is measured by faithfulness and obedience. Do we strive to accomplish what God has promised, or do we yield and allow God to do it through us. When upsets happen, and they will, do we trust that God has things under control, or do we wring our hands, worry, and try to fix things?

This year, I am determined to abide and yield to God and trust Him every step of the way.

Joy Key Meaning Enjoy Fun Or HappyJoy:

John 15:11   I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” — John Piper

Another word that God has exploded in my spirit is the word Joy.  God is showing me He wants me to be joyful and happy in Him. I’ve heard the catch phrase at times in Christian circles, “God doesn’t care if we’re happy as much as He wants us to be holy.” I didn’t realize how false this statement is.

The truth is He want us to find our happiness and holiness in Him. Isaiah 35:8-10 calls it the Highway of Holiness and says gladness and joy will overtake those on this highway. Only those in the narrow way will be found there. Not only that, there is safety on this highway. No ravenous beasts can be found there.

Isaiah 35:8-10 And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

The more time I spend enjoying God, the easier it is to handle the stress within my life. I am learning that finding joy in Him really does give me strength. John Piper calls this Christian Hedonism. You can read more about Christian Hedonism at this link.

Little boy hugging an old bookChrist Revealed:

Matthew 16:16-17  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.

1 Peter 1:7-9  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

The final word I want to share with you is Christ revealed. Many times, we children’s pastors lament because more children aren’t being saved or baptized in the Holy Spirit. Many live in secular homes. How can we possibly make a difference in their lives in one hour a week? The truth is we can’t, but Christ can. None of us have any chance of knowing Christ, no matter what our background was, unless the Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us. The same is true with our students. Don’t strive to be your students’ Holy Spirit. Instead teach the truth of God’s Word and pray for Christ to be revealed in their hearts.

I know this to be true. I grew up in a home that was far away from God. I went to church when I was 13 on a church bus because I heard there were cute guys. One night in a youth service, the Holy Spirit revealed Christ to me, I yielded, and my life was never the same.

Don’t only pray for Christ to be revealed in the hearts of your students; pray for Christ to be revealed in a greater way in your own heart, and watch what happens. That’s my prayer for 2017.

Happy New Year from Revival Fire for Kids!

5 Keys to Teaching Christian Kids about the Occult

Children today are bombarded with the occult through TV shows, cartoons, movies, and books targeted toward children. Today, it is more important than ever before to teach kids the Biblical view of the occult. If we shirk this duty, the secular world will teach them that the occult is harmless fun.

Unfortunately, many children’s pastors and church leaders either participate in occult entertainment or would rather allow children to be involved so they won’t scare them unduly. God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear. We need to teach the whole truth of Scripture before Satan gains a stronghold with our children.

Here are 5 keys to teaching your students and children about the occult.

The Bible forbids it. There are many verses that directly forbid the occult. All verses are in New International Readers Version. These are just a few of the verses that forbid it.

Leviticus 19:31  Do not look for advice from people who get messages from those who have died. Do not go to people who talk to the spirits of the dead. If you do, they will make you “unclean.” I am the Lord your God.

Revelation 21:8  But others will have their place in the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. Those who are afraid and those who do not believe will be there. Murderers and those who pollute themselves will join them. Those who commit sexual sins and those who practice witchcraft will go there. Those who worship statues of gods and all who tell lies will be there too. It is the second death.

Deuteronomy 18:10-11  Here are things you must not do. Don’t sacrifice your children in the fire to other gods. Don’t practice any kind of evil magic at all. Don’t use magic to try to explain the meaning of warnings in the sky or of any other signs. Don’t take part in worshiping evil powers. 11 Don’t put a spell on anyone. Don’t get messages from those who have died. Don’t talk to the spirits of the dead. Don’t get advice from the dead.

Renouncing the Occult was a sign of repentance in the Bible: There was a group of people who got saved while Paul was preaching. The first thing they did after getting saved was to burn all of their occult materials even though they cost a lot of money. We should also get rid of anything we have that is occult.

Acts 19:17-20  The Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus heard about this. They were all overcome with fear. They held the name of the Lord Jesus in high honor. Many who believed now came and openly admitted the evil they had done. A number of those who had practiced evil magic brought their scrolls together. They set them on fire out in the open. They added up the value of the scrolls. They found that it would take more than two lifetimes to earn what the scrolls were worth. The word of the Lord spread everywhere. It became more and more powerful.

Teach children what the occult is. Because the occult is so pervasive in our culture, many adults and children don’t understand what the occult is and what things we should avoid. They need practical teaching and examples of occult practices they need to avoid. Here’s a list of a few occult practices, although not exhaustive.

  • Witchcraft and sorcery
  • Séances and talking to the dead (ghosts)
  • Psychic powers
  • Telling fortunes (astrology, tarot cards, Ouija board, 8 ball)
  • Spirit or animal guides
  • Anything demonic

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 faith

Give children an opportunity to repent of Occult practices. Children need to know that if they’ve been involved in the occult, all they need to do is ask God to forgive them and turn away from their sin. This would be a good time to encourage your students to bring any occult paraphernalia to the church. You can have a bonfire to get rid of it just like the Christians did in Acts 19.

Fear Not (2)Teach children to Fear Not. Children have nothing to fear from demons, the occult, or Satan because God is all powerful. Remind them often while you are teaching against the occult that God has overcome the world. You might also want to pray with your students and ask God to take away their fears and nightmares.

2 Timothy 1:7  God didn’t give us a spirit that makes us weak and fearful. He gave us a spirit that gives us power and love. It helps us control ourselves.

Psalm 27:1 (NIV)  The Lord is my light and my salvation,  whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid.

James 2:19  You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that. And they tremble!

7 Ways to Partner with Parents in Children’s Ministry

24-1013tm-cart-professionalsOne of the keys to effective children’s ministry is partnering with parents to minister to their children. Here’s some ideas on ways to do that.

Communication: Communication is one of the key factors in partnering with parents. Most children’s ministries only communicate with the parents of their students to let them know about an upcoming event or program. This is not enough. If you truly want to communicate with parents, you need to let them know what’s going on in children’s ministry, what your goals and core values are, where you’re headed, and what you’re teaching. Newsletters, fliers, and bulletins are one way to do this, but they can’t be the only way. Communication, to be effective, needs the personal touch. Call the parents of your students or visit them. When you do talk to them, don’t only talk. Ask them what they would like to see as spiritual growth in their children. Communication is a two way street.

5c2ac-parent-meeting-2Use Parents On Your Leadership Team: One way to make sure parents are involved in children’s ministry is to have parents on your children’s ministry planning team. Sometimes they won’t be able to participate every week as workers, but by having parents on your planning team, you give them a voice.

Minister to Families: Sometimes we get so focused on children, we forget about families. Make focused efforts to include the entire family in some programs. You could have a parent/child banquet or include entire families in baby dedication. When a child is baptized or becomes a member of the church, find a way to include the family in the celebration.

Singing Hymns in ChurchInclude Children In Services: It is great to have children’s services where children can learn and worship on their own level. But if they’re never allowed in the sanctuary, never allowed to be a part of the congregation as a whole, they miss out on being mentored by their parents and elders in a worship setting. Find a way to include children in services sometimes. And when you do include them, give them opportunities to participate.

Give Parents and Children Opportunities to Minister: Does you church do fundraisers for missions, feed the hungry, or give out free school supplies. These are great opportunities for parents and children to minister along side each other.

Give Parents Resources: You told the parents what you’re teaching their Pray Computer Keys Showing Worship And Religionchildren. Also give them resources to share with their children at home. Devotional books like One Year Devo For Girls and One Year Devotions For Boys and a list scriptures and prayers that relate to the lessons are a great resource tool for parents.

Pray: Don’t just pray for the children in your children’s ministry. Pray for their families.

Are You Trying 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 faith

Remember 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.