When I was a pastor, I had the opportunity (and privilege) once in a while to preach in “Big Church,” and I always enjoyed it very much. With a degree in Bible theology and a love for the Word of God, it was always fun to get to communicate with and challenge adults in ways that I couldn’t in children’s church. Afterward, it was customary for the preacher to stand at the back and greet people as they left, and in the course of doing so, people were kind to express thoughts on the message and often compliments, which was always nice. Who doesn’t enjoy a “good sermon,” or “great job?” – even when the goal wasn’t to impress folks with my delivery but to challenge and change lives. But compliments should always be received with a thankful heart and with grace and humility. The compliment that always got me though, was when people (meaning well) said,
“You know, you should consider becoming a real pastor someday…you know, to adults. You’re good.”
The intention was an extra big compliment, but the message was clear. My talents were being wasted down there in the boiler room preachin’ at the kids week in and week out, when I could really be changing the world by ministering to adults. Adults who, most likely, would compliment me on a sermon well delivered yet change little in their lives as a result.
So why have I thrown my life away for ministry to children?
There are a number of reasons people suggest.
As a Moody Bible Institute student, I read that the great Dwight Lyman Moody (the Billy Graham of his era) said at the end of his life, “If I had my life to live over, I would devote all my time to children.” Why would he say this?
It is reported that Moody once displayed two lit candles, one tall and the other short. He asked the audience which represented the child and which the adult. A member of the audience guessed that the tall one was the adult and the short one was a child. Dwight responded that the gentleman had it backward. The tall one represented the child who had his entire life yet before him to live, and the short one was an adult whose life was all burned up and who had only a short amount of time left to burn. He then asked, which has greater potential to impact the world for Christ? The child, of course. Reach the children and change the world! Whether this story truly beckons from Moody we will never know, but I have used this illustration many times to demonstrate why devoting my life to children is strategic. If you change the course of a person’s life in their childhood, you change the entire course of their life!
Another reason often stated for reaching children is that through children you can reach the entire family. This is indeed true! I have seen it happen in my own ministry time and time again. However, I caution against this motivation, for it makes children the bait with which we get the real prize, the tithe paying adults! I don’t reach kids that I might reach their parents. I reach kids because kids need Christ. If their parents come along, that is a BONUS! Praise God!
Others have said they reach kids because they are so teachable. This motivation scares some, and it is one reason the secular world attacks us. “You are ‘brain washing’ children before they have time to think for themselves,” is the cry of the secular humanists who would rather children grow up believing nothing – despite the fact that “believing nothing” is actually believing something. It is a world view that deprives children of value, purpose, identity, and an understanding of the world around them. The time will come when they will be able to evaluate what they have been taught and weigh it against what the world proposes. If we have taught them well, they will be able to see the strength of the Christian world view against the hopelessness of a world without God. They will see that life requires faith one way or another – either faith in a living, loving God, or faith in chance and chaos, and they will make their choice. There is no need to postpone the foundation they need to make that decision wisely.
So have I devoted my life to children because it is strategic? Or because they are a bridge to families? Or because it is when they are young that they are most teachable – “wet cement” as some have described them?
No. It is none of these.
My reason for a life devoted to children is much simpler. Since I was nineteen years old and determined my Call for life and ministry, I have signed my name under a closing statement that sums up the motivation for my ministry, and it is no more complicated than this:
Because Jesus Loves Children,
THAT is why I minister to children. Because Jesus loves them. I don’t need any other reason. Any other reason is merely a benefit. Jesus commanded us to love children. He said if we were to come to Him, we needed to come as a children. He told us not to hinder them. He warned us against harming them or keeping them away from Him. Bottom Line: He loves them. And that is all the reason I need.
So I’ll speak to adults and preach whenever I’m given the opportunity, but I’m happy to ‘waste’ my life reaching kids. I love them. For He loved them first.
If you live on the East Coast – you need to bookmark engagechildren.org and plan on attending next fall. (In fact, it is worth a drive or flight in, from anywhere.)
This conference is put on by a local network, but it obvious after several years of practice, they know what they are doing. They had nearly 400 attendees there – and a great mix of leaders WITH their volunteer teams. One church I sat with at lunch was a group from a nearby church that brought the whole CM team, and one volunteer wouldn’t even let a five month old baby keep her or her husband away. That tells you something about both their commitment to children’s ministry and the quality of the conference.
Another woman shared with me that she was ready to quit – but after attending this conference, she was encouraged to keep on and never give up, no matter how hard ministry was. They brought in top-notch speakers (like Sue Miller from PromiseLand and Orange) but also local practitioners who could relate to your common kidmin leader and volunteer.
The fellowship was as great as the training. I was a late addition because I just wanted to come and check out the conference and they graciously added on a few extra workshops for me – and I had a wonderful time equipping and encouraging those who I got to interact with. But I attended workshops as well, and had a BLAST, as you can see quite literally from this YouTube Video:
I just wanted to both encourage my readers to consider attending this conference if it is in your geographical range – and also encourage those who put it on. WAY TO GO! The Kidology Team has done MANY conferences, and I know how much work goes into these. While I had a staff who worked very hard to put on many Kidology University conferences over a ten year period, the Engage Children Conference is put on completely by volunteers, so they deserve a special appreciation for all that they did behind the scenes to bless all those who attended over the weekend. My hat is off to them!
Thanks for investing in those who minister to kids! I know you are exhausted right now, but you impacted the Kingdom in a BIG way this weekend!
How do you help kids develop an “Attitude of Gratitude?” Every holiday seems to get derailed with the wrong focus. Christmas is about getting presents and Easter is about candy – and Thanksgiving can end up being about FOOD!
MANY many years ago I wanted to develop a game for my students at church that would help them focus on being thankful, but in a fun and engaging way. I also had the issue of it being a low attendance Sunday with families traveling and as a result I often was short on volunteers. What to do?
I ended up creating a large group game that became so HUGELY POPULAR it became an annual tradition. The game has been available on Kidology.org for over ten years in my “home made” version – but we finally decided to create a “real” version worthy of the FUN that it creates and make it available for wider use!
If you have ever played Parker Brother’s classic card game of PIT – you will already know the basic rules – and get a mental image of how fun the game is. But instead of just a few players yelling out, “One! One!” or “Three! Three!” around a card table – picture a room filled with 100 kids milling around all calling out, “Two! Two! Two!” or “Four! Four!” or “Oh, no! I got a Gimmie!”
For you see, instead of collecting commodities, the kids are collecting things they are thankful for! And instead of inserting a “Bear” or “Bull” card there are some “Gimmie! Gimmie!” cards that must be avoided at all costs. Once kids have collected a set of one item they are thankful for, they sit down. The goal is to not be the last kids left stuck with the “Gimmie! Gimmie!”s.
In the end, everyone is a winner – and the chaos turns to a short but fun lesson on how important it is to be thankful for what we have, and to avoid the “Gimmie Gimmies” – that attitude of focusing on what we can GET instead of what we can GIVE (or already have.)
If you are looking for an easy and FUN activity for this month in Kids Church or even with your family – check out Kidology’s new downloadable game, “GIMMIE GIMMIE!” It comes in full color or grey scale and includes customizable playing cards so you can modify the game as you wish! Full game instructions included.
It is no secret I rooted for Mitt. I have autographed campaign hats to prove it. So what does an Obama victory mean, as a Christian?
It is important to start by saying that as a Christian – we operate on two plains. The earthly plain and the heavenly. For Scripture teaches that
All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things… Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, (temporarily wants) and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Too many Christians choose only one plain OR the other. They either ignore the political arena and spout spiritual platitudes and ignore the real dangers that politicians and government can wreck on the people they govern and in so doing waste the freedom that has been bought for them on battle fields around the world, OR they get so wrapped up in politics they place unmerited hope in a party or politician (on either side) to bring “Hope and Change.” I suspect they are ones really depressed today. (or gloating)
As one whose candidate lost last night, I have two separate responses. As I must respond from ‘each citizenship’ separately.
As an American citizen:
I am stunned. I am forced to agree with a tweeter I follow who asked, “Is this what a cult of personality is like? When we just like the person & don’t care about the damage they do?” I am sad that we have entered a new normal of 8% unemployment and what that means for real people out there, when our opponents whined and complained about Bush’s 5%. I’m concerned that qualifications no longer matter in the office of president. National office is now, no matter how much we don’t like it, all about marketing and communications. Track records mean nothing. We just ran a man arguably more qualified to be President than anyone else in the modern era… and lost. Soon, ObamaCare will burden both the national economy and employers and along with Social Security and MediCare be broke, overrun with bureaucracy and unlike anything before it, invade our privacy and put a drag on the economy. This isn’t “gloom and doom” – it’s common sense. But Obama wasn’t elected because of facts. He was elected because of a fundamental change going on in America… personal greed. People want stuff given to them and will vote for who is handing the stuff out – whether it can be afforded does not matter. And is it any surprise, when most Americans live that way themselves? They buy the platitudes and wonderful sounding emotional arguments without any investigation and they also have learned that it is the end that justifies the means as the ugliest campaign in American history is credited with the victory. Pundits claim both sides “played dirty” – but that is hard to back up. One side talked about the other’s record, the other attacked the man himself with baseless lies, profanity and vulgarity… and won. The lesson? Being classy, respectful and a gentleman = losing. It speaks more of the character of the nation than it does of the leader. Like it or not, we got a man who reflects the direction we are headed. Reversing course was rejected.
So, as a citizen, what does it mean? It means America can still thrive – but not because of government, but because of the spirit of Americans. I’m not one that is despairing and assuming a horrible four years to come. Americans can, and I believe will triumph, and regrettably Obama will get the credit, even as he puts stumbling block after hindrance in the way of progress. It is going to get harder for businesses to succeed and create jobs. We will not see the quick growth and recovery we could have, but we will prevail despite. We always have. We have the best and the brightest on earth! So at the individual level – if you haven’t already, you need to go against the grain.
But know this, you must live within your means. (That is soooo unAmerican today!) Pay off your credit card bill every month. If you have debt, get out. (Other than your mortgage.) There are going to continue to be a lot of people in need, and if your financial affairs are not in order, you will not have the margin to help others. You’ll need to be able to be responsive to assist others. It is going to continue to be hard on churches and non-profits. Giving will stay down. Ours should increase! They’ll need it more. Don’t hoard, bless others who need it.
Don’t follow the trend of WANTING and TAKING. That is the trend in America today. Be one of the GIVERS and DOERS. That is the best hope for America.
As a citizen of Heaven:
The election of Obama, 59,837,874 over Romney 57,191,003* was narrow. As stated above, many people like what Obama stands for, or at least, aren’t bothered by it. (Many were just scared of Mitt as they believed a caricature of him.) I’m not going to list those items, as I’ve moved from political to spiritual here – but much has to do with right to life, religious freedom and a practical atheistic view of the world. So as a Christian, my response is simple. It is a reminder that we live in a lost world. No surprise here.
I expect things to get even more unfriendly toward the Church and toward religious freedom and toward non-profits. But I’m not worried. Our freedoms are still incredible, and amazing when you consider the plight of Christians over the landscape of history. We have it pretty good compared to our brothers and sisters in many other places on this globe, even right now. This election should remind us that HALF of Americans at least, are very lost. (Granted some Christians voted for Obama, and many non-Christians voted for Romney.) But the point remains, our work is clear:
Some of us, as citizens of America worked hard for our candidate. (Whoever he happened to be.) Whether you are on the losing side, like me, or whether you are reading this and your guy won, (congrats), wouldn’t it be something if that same energy, money, passion, time and enthusiasm went toward the One who truly CAN bring “Hope and Change?”
As a citizen of Heaven, this is my last political post for another four years, when my American duty to engage in politics will kick in again. But I have very little power – just one vote – but I have a lot of power through the Holy Spirit to campaign for Jesus every day!
So today I am announcing a renewed effort to campaign for Jesus Christ, the best hope – not only for America, but for the World.
Just had to save this awesome e-mail I got now that it’s time on the Kidology home page is over:
Just a quick note to tell you how much we enjoy Kidology and the awesome resources that you provide. We were asked to take over the children’s church about 3 years ago and Kidology was the first place we went to. Starting out with Toy Box Tales and a lot of prayer our ministry has grown from 18 kids to 70+! The latest curriculum that we are using is the Super Power Academy.
We started this past Sunday with a Super Hero Sunday Kick Off Service. All of the kids were encouraged to dress as their favorite super hero. It was a huge hit and they loved the lesson! Here are some pics of our “Super Heros” as we worship the real “Super Power”, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Thank you so much for what you do! We are praying for you!
Scott and Shannon Day
Church House Rock LIVE! Children’s Ministries
Jasper First Nazarene