Principles

Defining Children’s Ministry

What is children’s ministry?

Children’s ministry is a process that connects children with Jesus and His Story.

To elaborate:

Children’s ministry is a process

  • It’s children being transformed to be more like Jesus over the course of time. This involves a series of actions or steps that children take in order to achieve the desired end.
  • The process begins when children are invited to connect with Jesus and His Story. It develops as the grace and glory of Jesus is revealed.
  • The desired end of the process is for children to abandon every worldly allegiance and be relentlessly committed to Jesus.
  • This happens as children are filled with the Holy Spirit and enlivened by God’s Story.

That connects children with Jesus

  • Children’s ministry is relational.
  • It happens when children get together with Jesus, i.e. when they’re increasingly captivated by Him.
  • The connection begins as children see the glory, wonder and beauty of Jesus. It develops as they embrace Him in their hearts and genuinely surrender their lives to live only all for Him. And it matures as they worship and walk in His ways (Philippians 2:10-11, Psalm 128:1).
  • The core of children’s ministry is this connection with Jesus. That is, Jesus is the raison d’être of children’s ministry.

That connects children with His Story

  • Children’s ministry is informed.
  • It requires children to actively engage with God’s Story and be caught up in it by receiving and re-enacting it.
  • When children internalize God’s Story it gives meaning and value to their lives.
  • It begins when a child’s story is united with and reconfigured by God’s Story. It develops as children learn to indwell the whole Story and be indwelt by the Story. And it matures as children obey and live out the Story in their daily lives.
  • This connection with God’s Story is what frames and forms children’s ministry. That is, God’s Story is the underlying and unifying Word through which Jesus makes Himself known to children.

With the above definition in mind, we must guard against shrinking children’s ministry to something less than it should be. It’s more than parents reading the Bible or praying with their children, more than what happens at a mid-week or Sunday church service, and more than spiritual formation.

The destination or goal of children’s ministry isn’t teaching Bible stories, equipping children to participate in a community of faith, moral instruction, or cultivating children’s spiritual health per se. Children’s ministry is first and foremost about Jesus. It’s helping children know Jesus as their King and be citizens in His kingdom. And this can only happen when, working in tandem with the Holy Spirit, we show children how to sever their earthly attachments or loyalties and pledge total allegiance to the One who endured the cross, destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (cf. 2 Timothy 1:10).

Consider this verse of Scripture: “In him all things (including children’s ministry) hold together” Colossians 1:17. Jesus is the One who organizes and sustains children’s ministry. He’s the life-blood, the very pulse of children’s ministry. He’s the Person who shapes it and draws it together. So, if Jesus isn’t at the heart of children’s ministry, it isn’t children’s ministry!

© Scripture Union, 2020

2 Corinthians 4:5

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1 Comment

  1. Very well said. The focus must rest on Jesus at all times.
    Jesus is the heart of children’s ministry and parents are the key players in the ‘process’ of God reaching every child. Therefore empowering parents and working alongside them may have to be the needed paradigm shift for effective children’s ministry.

    “Parents are the children’s closest companions on their spiritual journey”
    Wendy Strachan

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