One of the key reasons children’s ministry is held back is that the good things we do aren’t always the best things we should do.
So what’s truly important in children’s ministry?
Here are my top three priorities:
1. Empower children to love Christ.
British evangelist T. Austin-Sparks said, “When Christ really captivates us, everything happens, and anything can happen.” Note the phrase “Christ really captivates.” The essence of children’s ministry should be children enthralled by Christ!The essence of children's ministry should be children enthralled by Christ! Click To Tweet
Is your all-pervading focus to see children abandon their lives to Jesus?
Jesus is the great God of connection. He wants children to attach themselves to Him (Matthew 19:14). First and foremost, children’s ministry must inspire children to embark on and pursue a lifelong quest to know and be known by Christ. Are you inviting children to give their total allegiance to Jesus? Are the children in your church encountering the heart-stopping, breathtaking, mind-blowing love Christ has for them?
Children’s ministry doesn’t exist for itself. It exists to glorify Christ and fulfil His mission. So the aim isn’t to grow children’s ministry – it’s to grow children! All the things we do in children’s ministry should be secondary to empowering children to love and live all out for Jesus.
2. Encourage parents to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Psychology professor Brianne Friberg says children’s ministry should be “strength-based and family-centred.” I like the way she connects these two principles. Children’s faith formation will never amount to much when we try to do it in our own strength. But when we’re empowered by the Holy Spirit and focused on families, lives are transformed for eternity!
You may be equipping parents with resources and tools, teaching them how to impress the Scriptures on their children, supporting and collaborating with them in their children’s faith formation, but are you encouraging them to be filled with the Holy Spirit?It's perilous to ignore the essential role of the Holy Spirit in family faith formation. Click To Tweet
Parents burn out when they’re not empowered from the inside out. Succinctly stated, it’s perilous to ignore the essential role of the Holy Spirit in family faith formation. For parents to be pastors and teachers in the home, they need to yield to, receive, and be filled with the Spirit every day (Ephesians 5:18-21). So encourage parents to be filled with the Spirit. Then they’ll have the necessary inner strength and wisdom to cultivate their children’s faith formation effectively.
3. Engage all generations to connect children with God.
Trainer and ministry coach Liz Perraudis fittingly says, “All the Bible stories, catchy songs, classroom creativity, and fun snacks don’t mean a thing without healthy Christ-centred relationships that connect children to one another, to adults who care about them, and to the God who loves them.”
A child’s faith is enhanced when they learn about Christianity from people of different ages and life experiences. Are you bringing together two or more generations to journey together in the pursuit of Christ? Are the grandparents in your church encouraging children to become everything God created them to be?People, not programs, help children catch glimpses of Christ. Click To Tweet
People, not programs, help children catch glimpses of Christ. Fostering intergenerational ministry is one of the best things a local church can do to connect children with Jesus and His Story. Different age groups worshipping, learning and serving together should be the norm, not the exception (Psalm 145:4). As Christina Embree, minister of generational discipleship, says, “It is time to create spaces and make room for children to grow with us, worship with us, learn with us, serve with us, laugh with us, cry with us, question and doubt and argue and debate with us, to be in relationship with us, so as to become disciples of Jesus with us.”
Stated simply, what’s truly important in children’s ministry is children coming to Christ, parents filled with Christ, and young and old together sharing Christ.
What are you prioritizing in your ministry context? Are you empowering children to love Jesus, encouraging parents to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and engaging all generations to connect children with God? If not, why not? What’s more important than these things?
Now don’t dismiss or sideline these questions. This deserves your undivided consideration. Why? Because your ministry priorities activate and animate your thinking, planning, resource development, activities, training, dreams and expectations.
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© Scripture Union, 2022