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:
1. Sit down and hear their hearts. After camp or the event, make it a point to sit down and hear their personal story. Let them explain to you how they are feeling and what direction God is guiding them. Let them know that it is normal to be afraid, but with excitement, explain that God has great plans for them! Whatever He calls them to do, He will walk alongside them every step of the way.
2. Take them under your wing. This is the thrilling point! You can become like Paul with Timothy and fan the flame of their gifts and calling. Allow them to walk along with you on Sunday mornings, evenings, and during weekday programs. Show them how ministry works and what you do. For accountability, NEVER meet with a child alone…for your protection and theirs.
3. Warn them about the pitfalls that come with a calling. There are two dangers for a child who is called to ministry. Number one is when we celebrate with them but then never take them under our wing to train and equip according to their calling. I have seen many kids through the years who felt called to ministry, and then the church family let them down. Second, called kids need to know that the enemy will not be happy with their decision and will ramp up his attacks. Many of the children who have told me they were called eventually fell into moral failure, while others I don’t even know where they are or what they are doing.
4. Determine their spiritual gifts. Find out what their spiritual gifts are through a spiritual gift test. Keep in mind that spiritual gifts manifest more and more as believers grow and serve in the body of Christ. Have the children take the test, and then plug them into ministry according to their highest scores. For example, if a child has the gift of teaching, talk with one of your best teachers and allow that child to come alongside the teacher and learn from them. Encourage your teacher to give the child opportunities to teach with them. Download a free copy of our Spiritual Gift Test.
5. Give them responsibilities. I have learned that children want responsibilities in the church, and they almost always step up to the challenge. One thing you will want to do is give them small tasks with high accountability. When they follow through, then take them to the next level. Remember, Jesus tells us that those who are faithful with small things will be entrusted with much. I have five students in whom I have invested over the past eleven years of their lives. They are all amazing leaders, partly because I took the time to pour my life into them. My joy is watching them flourish in their gifts and take on their ministry as their own.
When you look at the callings of kids, remember, you have a life that is willing to do anything for the Lord. They are pliable and teachable, and they will become amazing leaders in your ministry just by giving them a little time each week.
For more information about L.I.T. (Leaders in Training) click here.