Does Children's Ministry Matter?
This is a repost of an original 3-part series from Lifeway Kids.
The original post can be viewed here:
The quick answer, YES!!!
Children’s ministry matters and, in case you’re wondering, children’s ministry is the most important ministry in your church!!! (Did you really expect me to say anything else?)
I’ve often been asked to give a defense for children’s ministry. The question sometimes comes as blunt as the title of this post. So, I want to take the opportunity to officially answer. For me, if I can focus on these five things and not be consumed with the noise that often gets my attention, I’m a better KidMin leader. I hope it’s helpful to you, too.
#1: Children’s Ministry Matters Because Children Matter.
Here’s the thing. KidMin leaders get this, but not everyone else gets this. And guess what, they find themselves in pretty good company because Jesus’ disciples didn’t get this either.
When parents brought their children to Jesus for him to bless, the disciples tried to prevent them from having that encounter. But what did Jesus do? The Bible says that He was indignant (pretty angry) with His disciples and said one of my favorite passages in all the Bible, “Let the children come to me! Don’t try to stop them. People who are like these little children belong to the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14).
Jesus made sure all of history knew His position on children. Jesus made time to minister to them and modeled for us that children matter.
Because children matter we need to advocate for them.
Do the kids in your church have the very best space or have they been relegated to the “leftover” space no one else wants?
Is Kids Ministry represented on your church’s calendar? Are there opportunities to love on and lean into kids?
Does your church’s budget reflect that the church cares about kids? I believe that God will pour out His blessings on a church that invests in reaching and discipling children.
What about worship? Is your church’s commitment to children reflected in congregational worship? Are their worship needs being met and cultivated?
Is your KidMin leadership the “cream of the crop” or the “bottom of the barrel?”
These are just a few questions that can answer the question, does children’s ministry matter at your church.
#2: Children’s Ministry Matters Because Time Matters.
Researcher, George Barna brought to light the truth:
A person’s lifelong behaviors and views are generally developed when they are young—particularly before the age of 12. TIME MATTERS.
By the time a child is 9 years old their basic moral foundations have already been formed. That’s 3rd grade! TIME MATTERS.
By age 13, a person has formed their basic beliefs about things such as the nature of God, the reliability of the Bible, the existence of an afterlife and the everlasting love of Jesus. TIME MATTERS.
A person’s biblical worldview is in place before they go to 6th grade. TIME MATTERS.
Nearly ½ of all Americans who accept Jesus as their Savior do so before reaching the age of 13 and 2/3 of born again Christians make their profession of faith before their 18th birthday. TIME MATTERS.
Because time matters we lay foundations of faith and foundations for conversions. Because time matters we make sure the gospel is a priority and shared appropriately and regularly. Because time matters we see each opportunity as a gift with a responsibility to “train up” the children we’ve been given to shepherd.
#3: Children’s Ministry Matters Because Spiritual Growth Matters.
Here’s a question for you. When are we discipling kids to be more than “born again” but to be “born again, mature Kingdom building, culture-shaping followers of Jesus?”
We have a responsibility to not only share the gospel with kids but to lead boys and girls past the point of conversion to being growing disciples of Jesus Christ.
To some degree, evangelicals have done a good job of making the main thing the main thing. Evangelizing the nations is the command (Matthew 26:19-20) but what about the first part of the Great Commission? Making disciples? I’m concerned that in our attempt to simplify our programming we deprogrammed our ability to disciple and haven’t replaced that programming with other viable ways to move a child past the point of conversation.
Because spiritual growth matters we need to make sure we have adopted wise plans for discipling kids. Not some willy-nilly approach of “hit and miss” or “whatever looks good” or “whatever they’re doing” (whoever “they” are). We must assess our programming and build plans built on a philosophy of growing disciples.
#4: Children’s Ministry Matters Because Families Matter.
God’s plan for spiritual leadership and faith development is parents. But they need our help. One of the coolest things about what we get to do as Kids Ministry leaders is our partnership with parents.
I may not be an expert in parenting, but I can be an expert in equipping, empowering, and encouraging families. I can equip parents with information that helps them to continue learning taught at church, at home. I can share apps that reinforce biblical content taught at church. I can send emails, post share squares, create facebook pages, and use other outlets to encourage parents. I can be their loudest fan, cheering them on to success.
Additionally, today’s parents insist on safe environments for their kids. We live in a nervous time heightened by a greater awareness of sexual abuse, shooters, and germs. Parents want to know that church is a safe place. Because families matter we provide clean, safe, attractive, and inviting space for kids.
#5: Children’s Ministry Matters Because the Future Matters.
Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Children aren’t just the church of the future, they are the church right now. We should be developing Great Commission, Great Commandment, Acts 1:8, missional kids who are given opportunities to be the church.
Yes, children are the church of today but they are also the church of the future. They are the future leaders of the Church. If the next pastors, missionaries, Bible study leaders, or seminary professors aren’t in our classrooms, where are they? The values we instill in kids today will equip them to lead the next generation. It’s imperative that we give kids a firm foundation so they can build the future on that foundation.
Because the future matters we:
Model behaviors and habits that we want kids to emulate for a future generation.
Equip boys and girls with spiritual habits that will lead them well grounded into the future.
Equip kids to not only know the gospel, but we equip and encourage them to share the gospel.
Don’t wait for kids to “grow up” to lead, we let them lead while they’re growing.
Give kids the opportunity to lead and be on mission, practicing the Great Commission in the safety of our ministries.
Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). But, with every blessing comes responsibility. We have a responsibility to teach, equip, love, and lead.
YES!!! CHILDREN’S MINISTRY MATTERS!
Bill Emeott serves as Lead Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Kids. He is a graduate of Mercer University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Bill has served in Kids Ministry for almost 30 years and currently teaches 3rd Grade Bible study at his home church in Nashville, TN.