I have heard many arguments about children’s church and why children should not be in a separate service for their age group. Some believe that they should be sitting with their parents in the service—I do, too! Others would say that it is an excuse for them to skip church and hide out in children’s church. I want to challenge your perspective, whichever it may be.
I served on staff in five different churches. At two of them, I did not have a say about whether kids would sit with their parents or were welcome in children’s church. The main reason for children’s church was that our worship center did not have enough room for the kids. So, we provided children’s church. The choice was made for me…I was going to do children’s church.
The other day I was talking with a children’s pastor in my area. She was very frustrated because she had moved a group of preteens that she felt were ill prepared into the student ministry of her church. She talked with the student pastor shortly after the transition, and he told her that it was too late, that they were set in their ways and there was little hope of their lives changing at this point.
The fingers point in many directions in the church trying to cast blame; however, the answer to the problem is to stop doing what we are doing and move to a model of intentional discipleship and empowering of children and preteens for ministry.
Allen Nelson shares,
We had hit the end of our midweek program, and I was completely exhausted.
I hate to say it, but I was praising God that it was over.
Nine months straight of Wednesday evenings, and I just wasn’t seeing a lot of fruit for such a labor-intensive program.
For all the work we were doing, it wasn’t making much of a difference in the lives of the kids in our church.
I wasn’t experiencing much joy in this journey either.
Fast forward five years to May 2002.
I was called to a children’s pastor position in Fort Worth, Texas.
L.I.T. (Leaders In Training) takes a non-traditional approach to children’s ministry.
Most curriculums are knowledge-based, where children are taught stories and information about the Bible according to their developmental learning styles.
In many cases, Christian resource providers have adopted this secular education model.
L.I.T. focuses more on what a child can do through the work of the Holy Spirit in their life.
Children at a very young age can begin developing a steady walk with Christ through daily Bible study and prayer.
A partnership between parents and the church has proven to be very effective in developing spiritual disciplines at home.
What children have studied at home is being reinforced during disciple group time by leaders who are models leading by example.
As a group progresses throughout the year, the leader intentionally gives more and more responsibility to the children in the group.