The Holy Spirit moves as He will during children’s ministry, but we have the ability to create an atmosphere where the Holy Spirit will change the lives of our students. Here are 5 ways to create an atmosphere to allow God to move.
Be prepared. Get set up early. Don’t be distracted by trying to get everything ready at the last minute. If you can’t come early to set up, go to the church the night before. Also have your lesson prepared in advance along with any objects or workers you need.
Prepare yourself spiritually. You can’t take children where you haven’t been. If you want the Holy Spirit to move in children’s church, spend some time in His presence during the week.
Play praise and worship music before church. Spend some time before service playing praise and worship music and spending time worshiping before any children arrive. This sets an atmosphere of worship.
Anoint the chairs and doors with oil. Pray for the students to receive from God before the service begins.
Start the right way. Don’t let things get out of control by allowing discipline problems or unstructured free time as soon as the students enter into the room. Take spiritual authority over your children’s service from the moment the first student enters.
Many Pentecostal children’s pastors have a difficult time having altar ministry for children because they’ve never been trained in how to minister at the altar. Some children’s pastors fumble through it praying for each children’s sore finger or lost dog, and some throw up their hands and stop having altar ministry all together. But don’t give up hope. Altar ministry is an important part of Pentecostal children’s ministry.
Here are 5 keys that can help you:
First, explain what they should do and what might happen at the altar. I do this long before the altar call, so if they have any questions, it won’t delay it. I start this by telling the children that I will call them up front. Music will play, and I want them to focus on worshiping God. They can sing, close their eyes, lift their hands, ect. I let them know that I’m not going to pray for them right away. When I do, I will place my hand on their heads.
At this point, I let the kids know some things that might happen. They might fall down (slain in the Spirit), but if that happens, someone will be behind them to catch them. Make sure you workers know to be catchers. They might cry. They might laugh. They might start to stutter or speak in a language they don’t know (baptism of the Holy Spirit). They might want to kneel, or shout, or dance, or run. Any of these things might happen, and that’s okay. Also none of these things might happen, but they might feel the presence of God strongly on the inside, and that’s okay too.
Sometimes the children will have questions like, “If I fall down, how long should I stay there?” My answer to that is always, “As long as you want to enjoy the presence of God on the floor, go ahead and stay there. If you want to get up, that’s okay too. Whatever the questions are, try to answer them.
Invite the Holy Spirit into the Place. This is vital. We are not having altar ministry just for the fun of it, although it is fun. We want the Holy Spirit to move on these children. It’s amazing what happens when you take a moment at the beginning of the service to invite the Holy Spirit to move.
Don’t be in a Hurry. Allow the Holy Spirit time to move once the children are at the altar. Sing praises and worship and speak in tongues out loud so the children can hear you and encourage them to worship.
During this time, don’t tolerate disruption or misbehavior at the altar. If a child is being disruptive, warn him or her. If he persists, have him sit quietly in the back of the room with a worker.
Wait for the glory of God to enter the room before doing anything more. Remember, this is God’s show. We need to obey His leading.
Make sure your workers know what to expect. Each worker should be instructed ahead of time. You’ll need a worker behind each child you are praying for. That worker should place his hands on the child’s back firmly so the child knows it is safe to yield to God. Someone is there to catch him or help him.
When you feel the Holy Spirit lead, lay hands on each child. Leave your hand on each child until God moves. Sometimes that will be a minute or two. That’s all right. Don’t pray out loud or say anything unless God tell you what to say. Just allow the Holy Spirit to do what He wants. Then move to the next child.
Observations and Testimonies. If you observe anything unusual like a cloud or a fragrance, point it out to the children. Observe how fun it is to be in the presence of God. Allow children to testify at this point what God is doing or has done at the altar.
Sometimes it takes time for children to get to the point of yielding to what the Holy Spirit is doing depending on how use they are to being in Holy Ghost filled services. You might want to do some teaching on it to prepare the children. Continue inviting the Holy Spirit to show up every week until the children are receptive. Once that happens, this is what they’ll want every week. As I always tell my students, being in the presence of God is more fun that anything else.
Acts 2:4 (NIV) All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
When teaching children about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, you will want to give them instructions. Here is what I tell children before I pray for them to be filled.
Supplies needed:wrapped candy for each child
Have someone in your church give a testimony about being baptized in the Holy Spirit as a child. If you have children in your ministry who were baptized in the Holy Spirit, have them tell about their experience.
Give each child a piece of candy. Ask them what they had to do to receive that candy. They may answer that they didn’t have to do anything or the they had to reach out and grab it. Tell the children that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a free gift that they only need to reach out and grab.
Here’s how they do that:
1. Ask God for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
2. Praise God out loud using their voices. God doesn’t zap them against their wills so they will speak in tongues. They have to use their voices to praise God first.
3. Surrender their words. When they start to feel their tongues and mouths forming in strange ways, they need to surrender their voices to God and allow Him to speak through them.
4. Wait on God. Sometimes children are not baptized in the Holy Spirit right away. When this happens, instruct them to believe God wants to fill them and to wait on Him to do as He promised.
Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Supplies needed: pitcher of water, 5 paper cups prepared the following ways (1st cup turned upside down, 2nd cup has dirt, trash, and mud in it, 3rd cup has hole in the bottom, 4th cup is cut in half length wise with the cup side turned toward the children, 5th cup is right side up), bowl to catch water
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a free gift that God wants to give His children, but there are ways to prepare to receive this free gift.
(pour water in the first cup) This represents a child who has not asked Jesus Christ into His heart. Since he doesn’t know Christ as his Savior, he can’t receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
(show children the inside of the second cup) This child can’t receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit because he has sin in his life. He needs to confess his sin to God and ask God to forgive him before he receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
(pour water in the third cup) This child is saved and has been forgiven of his sin, but he can’t receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit because he doesn’t have faith that God will fill Him. Maybe he thinks he’s too young or not good enough. Or maybe he believes that God only wants to fill people like the preacher and the children’s pastor.
(pour water in the fourth cup) This child can’t receive the Holy Spirit because he hasn’t surrendered himself completely to God. Once he does that, he can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
(pour water into the fifth cup until it overflows) God wants to fill you with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Lead the children in a prayer that addresses each of the children represented by the different cups.
It happened again. I was leading a workshop at a Pentecostal church for children’s leaders when I came to the topic of children receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. As usual, I received blank stares followed by a question from one brave person who asked what everyone else was thinking. “Aren’t children too young to be baptized in the Holy Spirit?”
I’ll list the reasons I gave that group for why children are NOT too young to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
God promised the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to children as well as adults. Not only does the promise in Joel mention sons and daughters, it mentions all people or all flesh, not all adults.
Joel 2:28-29 (NIV) And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
God promises the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is something you achieve after you’ve been a Christian for a certain amount of time or reach a certain age. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a free gift, like salvation, for everyone, including children, who believes.
Luke 11:11-13 (NIV) Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
The gift of the Holy Spirit is specifically mention as being for our children.
Acts 2:38-39 (NIV) Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
The youngest person to be respond to the Holy Spirit was in his mother’s womb. John the Baptist was a fetus in his mother’s womb. Elizabeth, his mother, was six months pregnant when Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus, visited. Elisabeth’s baby leaped in her womb. If that is possible before a child is born, of course children can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Luke 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
There is no junior Holy Spirit. When Jesus rode on a colt into Jerusalem, He was fully God and fully man. So the fullness of God in the flesh resided on a child donkey. A child handled the fullness of God just as a child can receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit. There is no junior Holy Spirit.
Children are receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit today. Both of my children received the Holy Spirit when they were children. Many children in my children’s ministry throughout the years have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Many times when I hold children’s revivals or speak at church camp, children receive the Holy Spirit.
There is no age limit mentioned in the Bible, and there is no age limit I have observed while ministering to children over the last 28 years. Children can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Buy music with motions: Some children’s music DVDs have the motions included or have instructions on how to do the motions.
Order of Songs: If your songs are chopping or don’t flow together, children will become distracted instead of being led into the presence of God. Do your song line-up in this order.
Activity Songs: Start with fast moving songs full of motions.
Praise Songs: These songs usually have a faster tempo but not always. The are an expression of approval or commendation of God. They are songs that tell us about God. They require physical action to express our praise in order to really be praise.
Worship: These songs usually have a slower tempo. They are our response to being in God’s presence. The words will be about worship God or about surrendering our will as a response to God’s love for us. At this point, you may want to tell children they don’t have to do the motions. They may want to close their eyes, raise their hands, or kneel. All of these actions are a correct response when worshipping God.
Motive: Teach children why they should worship and praise. Psalty the Songbook used to have a phrase he said on everything that came out from that ministry. “You can sing Christian songs til your blue in the face, but if it’s not from the heart, it’s not praise.” We need to teach our students that.
Discipline and Attitude: This step is vital. Don’t allow any child to opt out of praise and worship. Have all the children stand and participate. Also don’t allow any comments like “I don’t like this song” or “This is dumb”. A bad attitude will ruin praise time.
Song choice for praise and worship during children’s services can mean the difference between children who love worship time and children who stand around board. Here’s a few basic guidelines to help you with song choice.
Choose songs that aren’t wordy.
A mistake many children’s’ pastors making is choosing songs that have too many words. The songs may be great, but it there are so many words the children can’t keep up, they’ll spend more time trying to figure out the lyrics than they will worshiping. Unfortunately there are many children’s ministry music companies, some of them very well known, that use wordy songs. So when buying music, you really do have to be careful.
But what if you want to do a song that has a lot of words. There is a way to make this work. First introduce the song gradually. You might want to play it at the beginning of service, during offering, or at altar call until the children become familiar with it. You might also want to make it a choir song so the children have time to learn. Once you do introduce it during praise and worship, be careful to only introduce one new song at a time until the children learn it.
Choose songs that reflect your church.
If your church is big on black gospel music, Hillsongs ballads might not work for the children in your church. If your church sings southern gospel and hymns, Kari Jobe songs might not work. Children pick up on the music the adults sing, and many times, want to emulate it during praise and worship.
Choose songs that children can understand.
Popular songs are not always the best songs for children if the lyrics are difficult to understand. If you do introduce a song, your students might not understand, spend some time explaining what the words mean. Otherwise, the song won’t be a good choice.
Teach an occasional hymn.
Even if your church doesn’t sing hymns, it’s good to occasionally teach children songs with great meaning and a rich heritage. Updated versions of hymns like Amazing Grace will never go out of style.
Don’t do dorky.
This is one of my pet peeves for children’s praise and worship music. There’s a place for fun activity songs, sometimes even songs that have been around for a while, but don’t do dorky or you’ll lose your students. To know if a song is too dorky, here’s a test. If you think it’s dorky, your students will also.
For Praise and Worship music you can buy that fits this criteria, click here.