Who does God call on to tell children about Jesus? All of us!
This may come as a surprise, but God expects all Christians to be involved in children’s ministry. If we’re part of the family of God, then all of us must connect children with Jesus and His Story. None of us are exempt! We can’t keep Jesus for ourselves. Regardless of our age, vocation, or status, every one of us has a share in the work of telling “the next generation about the Lord’s power and his great deeds and the wonderful things he has done” Psalm 78:4 (GNT).
God’s Word is explicit in this matter.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children …” Deuteronomy 6:5-7.
Notice the phrase “impress them (the scriptures) on your children.” This is the Great Priority for every believer. We must impress the scriptures on our children in ways that lead them to love Jesus with all that’s in them.
The minor prophet Joel says, “Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation” Joel 1:3.
Notice the phrase “to the next generation.” Telling our children about Jesus and His Story is a sacred responsibility that’s handed down from one generation to the next. A generation is an entire age group of people who are born and living at the same time. So the responsibility to tell our children about Jesus doesn’t get handed down from one teacher to the next, or from one parent to the next; it gets handed down from one cohort of God’s people to the next cohort of God’s people.
In Asaph’s maskil we read, “My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old – things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done … which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands” Psalm 78:1-7.
This is a sweet truth. When, as a generation, we share the marvellous Story with the next generation, then they will trust in Jesus. Note how the promise is conditional. We must do our part, then God will do His part. If we’re fickle and faithless and don’t stay true to Jesus, then our children will follow suit. But when we truly live for Jesus and share His Story with our children, then they’ll likewise know and share His Story with their children.
So, there’s a general calling for everyone to be involved in children’s ministry, but there’s also a specific calling.
Jesus looks for and appoints some people to undertake special roles in children’s ministry (e.g. teaching, pastoring, evangelizing, coaching, prophesying, counselling). The work of these people is similar, yet different from what we’re all called to do. Similar because their first priority should always be to participate in what Jesus is doing among children, yet different because they steward skills, gifts or experiences that equip them to undertake particular functions or responsibilities in children’s ministry.
My wife Karen is one of the many people who have a specific calling to children’s ministry. When I say she’s called to children’s ministry, I’m referring to the fact that she feels graciously compelled by the Spirit to make it her vocational purpose in life. But that’s not all. She’s wired for it. There’s a genuine deep desire in her heart to work with children. It’s what we, her family and friends, know she does best. And her passions and giftedness, as well as the fact that she just can’t imagine not ministering to children, work together to keep her unshakeably involved as an elementary school teacher, special education resource teacher, and children’s ministry facilitator and trainer in the church.
Here are the key elements that usually comprise a specific calling to children’s ministry:
- God has rooted the aspiration in your heart and mind (Ephesians 4:11)
- You can’t see yourself doing anything else (Jeremiah 20:9)
- Mature believers confirm it’s God’s will for you (Proverbs 11:14)
- God’s equipped you with the necessary gifts, talents and abilities (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)
So one way or another we’re all called to children’s ministry – all charged with the awesome privilege of telling the next generation about the incomparable, unsurpassed, outstanding, all wonderful Jesus. It’s a high calling. One that according to Roger Fields the creator of Kidz Blitz, is “too serious to be taken lightly, too urgent to be postponed, too vital to be ignored, too relevant to be overlooked, too significant to be trivialized, and too eternal to be fleeting.”
© Scripture Union, 2021