Thinking Biblically and Clearly About Children’s Ministry

The flourishing of children’s ministry is contingent on God’s people thinking biblically and clearly.

If we don’t raise the level of our thinking, we mire children’s ministry in mediocrity. For children’s ministry to thrive and not just survive, we have to think right; wrong thinking, unintended or not, always leads to decay.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” Colossians 3:2 (NIV). Note the phrase “on things above.” Right thinking is Jesus-centred thinking. Wrong thinking is earthly-centred thinking. So to think straight, you must “Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective” Colossians 3:2 (MSG).

What is the day-to-day focus of your work with children? What’s in your mind as you plan and prepare lessons and activities? Good theology usually leads to good practice. Do your daily encounters with Jesus in and through His Word inform and direct your ministry? Or do you regurgitate a curriculum written by someone who may or may not see things from Christ’s standpoint?

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How do we think the wrong way?

We’re messed up if we think children’s ministry is all about programs! Sadly and tragically, wrong or sloppy thinking in children’s ministry occurs all the time. Here’s how it happens:

  • By doing what everyone else does without critically evaluating if it’s the best way to connect children with Jesus and His Story.
  • When we mechanically use a curriculum or syllabus with little to no thought given to how it may or may not benefit the spiritual health and growth of the children.
  • When we grab a lesson plan at the last minute, quickly skim through it, then read from it while conducting a Sunday School or Kids Church class.
  • By not persevering in prayer and Bible study until we receive the word from the Lord that He wants us to share with the children.
  • By spending most of our preparation time contemplating how to make an activity unique and engaging.
  • When we’re not thinking through and preparing a strategy identifying ministry aims, objectives, context, methodology, and how we’ll accomplish or measure the effectiveness of what we’re doing.
  • Through not reading books on children’s ministry or attending courses and workshops (in-person or online) to develop our understanding and expertise.
  • Through mainly relying on events to meet the needs of the children.
  • By blending, incorporating or merging worldly practices, beliefs, activities, ideas, values, or images into what we’re doing with children.

How do we think the right way?

Right thinking doesn’t just happen – we must cultivate it. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” Romans 12:2 (NIV). Right thinking is intentional and concerted. So the way to deal with wrong or sloppy thinking is through renewing your mind. This happens when you stop fitting in with the prevailing culture and fix your attention on Jesus. To focus on Jesus, you need to be steeped in His Word.

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Here are some examples of right thinking applied personally:

  • I prayerfully study and contemplate the Scriptures to facilitate my faith formation and inform my ministry activities.
  • I intentionally and regularly review my ministry methodologies and activities for @home and @church.
  • I find ways to optimize opportunities to equip and encourage parents to nurture their children’s faith formation.
  • I creatively develop and enhance interpersonal and intergenerational connections with Jesus and His Story.
  • I critically and robustly discuss and debate the theology and practice of children’s ministry with ministry colleagues, friends and family.
  • I attend workshops and conferences, watch podcasts, and read articles and books on children’s and family ministry.
  • I try to figure out how ministry can be increasingly about Jesus and less about myself (John 3:30).

Right thinking leads to the right outcomes.

Right thinking is imperative. What goes on in your mind affects what you do and how you do it. Serving children (while it should flow from personal faith in Jesus and a heart dedicated to Him) is an outworking of your thinking. Author Tony Jones says, “Almost every choice we make reflects what we think about God. There’s no escaping it.” So, when you don’t steward your mind by cultivating a biblical mindset, it benefits the spread of darkness. On the other hand, His light spreads and children are drawn to Him when you stimulate Jesus-centred thinking.

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Thinking biblically and clearly about children’s ministry

© Scripture Union, 2022

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