Imagine getting a brochure in the mail: Salvation Conference – O’Hare Hyatt – Jesus, God’s Son, lecturing on God’s Eternal Plan for the Salvation of Mankind. Admission Free. Come ready to study the prophetic Old Testament Scriptures and the Types of Christ that point to the Soteriological Position and Role of Jesus.
Not many people would be drawn to a training seminar on Semitic salvation – and that is why Jesus didn’t come and undertake an educational ministry, but rather a relational ministry! Jesus came to this earth, born as a child, grew up within the culture, ministered to felt needs, and made friends who He made into disciples to carry on the ministry after His redeeming work on the cross.
And yet, so often we try to minister to children through a primarily educational ministry instead of a relational ministry! Yes, Jesus had a message to communicate and did a great deal of teaching – but He delivered His eternal message within the culture and within a relational context. In Children’s Ministry we must do the same!
Jesus ministered within the culture.
Jesus could have made a ‘grand entrance’ as an adult – much in the same style as when He left for heaven. From one perspective, some might say this may have helped his reception as the Messiah, but instead, He chose to come as a child. Jesus chose to grow up within the culture. No one could say of Jesus that He didn’t ‘understand’ or had never ‘walked in our shoes.’ The book of Hebrews teaches us that He suffered and was tempted in all ways as we are. He knew whom He was ministering to, not only as their Creator, but as One who had experienced it first hand as well. Perhaps this made His ministry more difficult, but it certainly made it more effective. Ministry to children is not much different! We need to be willing to get into the culture of children and minister to them from within that culture. Yes, this will make ministry more difficult! Some will even misunderstand and accuse you of untrue things (being immature, childish, a clown, etc.), BUT your ministry WILL be more effective!
Jesus ministered to felt needs.
The multitudes that Jesus was ministering to were in desperate need of spiritual salvation and freedom from the bondage of superficial religion and the eternal consequences of trying to work themselves into God’s favor. However, their focus was more on their temporal aches and pains and political struggles. Jesus could have rebuked them for worrying about the wrong things and tried to redirect them toward the things that truly mattered in the scope of eternity. But instead, He graciously and patiently chose to attend to those temporal concerns, all the while drawing them to the things they should be thinking about. The same is true in a children’s ministry! Are kids thinking often about spiritual things? Their eternal destiny? How they can please God in day-to-day life? The salvation of their friends? Probably not. It’s more likely they are thinking about toys, television, the next time they will get to play outside or some other activity that is fun and certainly eternally irrelevant! That’s O.K. (Adults are not much different!) It is the children’s minister’s job to accept those ‘less than spiritual’ concerns and while addressing them, be continually drawing them up to the more important eternal concepts they should be thinking about. That is why church needs to be fun – but a strategic fun with a purpose. Not merely entertaining, but engaging the kids so as to lead them on to more essential concepts.
Jesus made disciples who would carry on the work after He left.
While Jesus certainly ministered to the multitudes, He focused the majority of His time on a few men we know as the disciples. It was these twelve men and those they in turn trained, that turned the world up side down for the rest of history. Without the development of the disciples, Jesus’ ministry would have only been a great show for three years. Instead, His ministry was the stone that was dropped to start a tidal wave of ministry that has only grown larger over time! Yet all too often in ministry, you see people who put on a great show for awhile – some fantastic kid’s program, for example – and then when they are gone, all that is left are great memories of a wonderful time, instead of a lasting memory. This need not be! In children’s ministry, it is essential that we continually build a team that will outlast us – not only in our particular church – but outlive us in life. This means not only training fellow adults – but also enlisting and equipping children to serve as well!
This is why later, we will address in detail how to start a “Kids Church Crew” of children who can learn to plan, organize, lead and minister in the Kid’s Church program!
A PRINCIPLE-DRIVEN MINISTRY
- Jesus ministered within the culture.
- Jesus ministered to felt needs.
- Jesus made disciples who would carry on the work after He left.
THEREFORE CHILDREN’S CHURCH MUST ….
- Be kid-centered. Minister from within the “Kid Culture.”
- Be aimed at kids’ interests and contemporary needs.
- Be disciple – driven. Equip kids for ministry after you are gone.
- Is your Kid’s Church service kid-centered? Does it minister from within the “Kid Culture?”
- Is it aimed at kids’ interests and contemporary needs?
- Is it developing disciples? Are there kids being equipped for ministry after you are gone?
This is an excerpt from Part One of The Kids Church Cookbook, Called to be a Chef of God’s Word.