Have you ever heard the phrase, “Hindsight is 20/20”? As I reflect back over the past 26 years of ministry, I always struggled as a minister to find help and volunteers in the church. I remember hearing Jim Wideman years ago talk about the “Moses syndrome.” He said, as a minister, he would walk down the hallway on a Sunday morning looking for volunteers. The adults who saw him would part the hallway on both sides like the Red Sea. They were trying their best to avoid eye contact or being near him because he might ask them to serve. This has been much of my journey. As I began to ponder this problem, I realized it isn’t a problem that can’t be fixed. We just have to change the way we are developing our leaders. The reason that it is difficult to get adult volunteers, even parents, to serve is because they have never served in the church all of their lives. Let me explain. Somewhere along the way in the church’s great history, someone embraced the idea that the way to disciple and equip children is through indoctrination—having them sit and listen while someone teaches. We sit them in a classroom and use different teaching styles to explain to them how to live for Jesus. The problem here is that faith is caught, not taught. You can lecture all day long and never move a child’s heart, but teaching with action changes lives. Recently, I have been looking at trends that might cause a minister to rethink the way to do ministry.
I want to ask you a question: Where is your church today in the recognition of children and their spiritual gifts? I challenge you to take a moment to honestly evaluate where you are and the importance of children using their gifts in the body of Christ today. I encourage you to take a test—the Ezekiel test. We use Ezekiel 47:1-5 as an illustration of five levels of spiritual growth, depth, and involvement.
- On the bank (v. 2b)—I do, You watch
- Ankle deep (v. 3b)—I do, You help
- Knee deep (v. 4a)—You do, I help
- Waist deep (v. 4b)—You do, I watch
- Swimming (v. 5)—You do