I love seeing children in my church and ministry come to know Christ. There is no greater joy than to sit down with them and hear their hearts. Many of them are truly broken over their sins and want Christ’s forgiveness.
Unfortunately, I am afraid that many times it stops there. Afterwards, they attend Sunday school and church services regularly, but they are not discipled to walk with the Lord daily or to have a deeper walk Christ. I have known kids who memorized hundreds of verses and took part in most of our events, but I didn’t see true change in their lives until they humbled themselves before the Lord in surrender.
You see, the Gospel comes at a cost to every believer/follower of Christ. The cost is surrender and total abandonment of our wishes and desires to follow Him. Jesus tells us, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 16:24-25). That cost is the surrender all of our rights to the Savior.
For some of us, this is a very difficult discussion; even for myself, it was hard to give up and let the Lord have full control of my life. When I did, the light came on, and I have never been the same since. The same is true for our children—until they surrender to His Lordship, they will not experience all that Christ has planned for them.
One of my greatest joys in children’s ministry has been the discovery of spiritual gifts in children. I was privileged to serve on staff at my last church for more than 13 years. Through those years, I walked alongside some incredible kids who are now adults. They showed me how the Holy Spirit was at work in their lives through their total dependence on Him to empower them in ministry. Their gift(s) manifested in many ways often in the church and especially in our community and on mission. Children’s Ministry became exciting to me! I stepped out of a box in which I was trapped for over 13 years, and I moved into a new paradigm as I watched God working in and through the lives of the kids.
You see, I was like many children’s ministers in the church today. I had embraced the idea that kids should just sit and be taught about Jesus and His Word. Then one day, they would be mature enough to serve. But, it was through God’s Word that I discovered their value in His church today. I found that young believers were not given a “baby” Holy Spirit when they were reborn; they were given THE HOLY SPIRIT! This meant that they were gifted by the Holy Spirit at the moment they said yes to Jesus. They are not the church of the future; they are the church TODAY because of Who lives in them today!
What Should I Do When a Child Tells Me They Feel Called to Ministry?
If you have been in ministry a while, you know that it is very common for kids to feel God’s tug on their hearts to respond to a call to ministry. At camp several years ago, we had about 20 children come forward during one of the services to surrender to ministry and missions. At the time, I didn’t know what to do with them. We took down their information and said, “Praise God,” told their parents, and then moved on. There is a saying, “Hindsight is 20/20.” I should have seized the perfect moment to engage those kids right then and there. I am currently working with several students who felt the call at a young age, and I am very intentional in helping them fulfill that calling today.
Here are five steps you can take to support and equip them for ministry:
Every year, I have leaders approach me saying, “I just don’t think our kids are ready or mature enough to take part in a mission trip. This is a huge responsibility to share the Gospel with lost people. They are not developmentally ready to do something like this.” I have heard a lot of concerns like these, but those concerns are quickly turned to amazement when leaders see firsthand how God moves in the lives of children.
Here are five things to think about when contemplating whether you should take your kids or send your kids on a mission trip: