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:
Where is your children’s ministry today in relation to discipling children and releasing them in ministry in your church? By honestly answering the questions below, you can assess the effectiveness of your children’s ministry. Score your answers in the following way: 1 is rarely or never, and 5 is fully agree.
When I was a kid, I used to love the pages my teacher would give us where we would draw a picture by connecting the numbers and dots. I am not fully sure what the purpose of the activity was, but you needed to know how to count or the picture wouldn’t turn out right. The best part of going step-by-step was seeing the picture develop before your eyes.
I have had the privilege of teaching and training for many years now. As I researched about kids staying in the church, I began to see a trend. There is a critical connection between service, staying in the church, and becoming a fully-active member of the body of Christ. As I have taught this on many occasions, leaders have come up to me and said that this is why they themselves are in the church today. Last spring, I was leading a training in Alabama. One of the leaders talked to me afterwards and said, “You are right. My children’s pastor did this for me. I started teaching VBS when I was in the 4th grade.” One leader from a church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, shared with me: “This is exactly what happened to me. My children’s minister took twelve girls and had us teaching and serving alongside her in the church. All twelve of us are now in full-time ministry.” The preschool minister at the last church where I served told me that she had the same experience. She started teaching when she was 12 years old. The dots began to connect for me. Kids who serve at a young age become active teachers and leaders in the body of Christ as adults. It connects them to the church and gives them meaning in life.