I attended a preteen bridge conference several years ago. George Barna was speaking and shared something that really caught my attention. He said, “The spiritual battle for our children is won or lost in the children’s ministry.” This struck a nerve with me. If you are a children’s pastor, children’s director, preschool minister, or anyone involved in children’s ministry as a whole, you are in a battle. Barna, like many other leaders, is realizing how serious the battle for our children is today. During his 20+ years of research, he targeted adult behavior in the church. Then one day, reality struck. He shared, “Somehow, God managed to lift the veil from my eyes long enough for me to gain wisdom…It became painfully clear to me that I had been operating on the basis of some very faulty assumptions.” What Barna found was the most successful ministries can be traced back to those who were wholeheartedly had an effective plan for children’s ministry.
This means that what you do is the most significant thing in your church. It’s not student ministry; it’s not adult ministry. It’s in the children’s ministry where the battle lines are forming. Knowing this, what should you do as a children’s pastor, children’s director, or ministry leader?
- Seek the Lord for clear vision. Remember, this ministry is not yours; it belongs to Christ. It is His church, it is His ministry, and it is His calling on your life. There are new freedoms that come in ministry when you fully release your ministry to Him and His Lordship. The freedom comes when you give it to Him, laying the burden at His feet and asking Him what the next steps are. When you do, I promise you this will be freeing to you, and there will be greater fruits in your ministry. Your leadership will also be very excited when they hear a vision from the Lord.
- Develop a prayer team. Enlist a group of people in your church who are prayer warriors who will pray for you, for families, for children, and for your leadership. Remember that the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). Send out a monthly prayer sheet to your prayer warriors via email.
- Share the vision with your leadership. The number one person in your church who should know where you’re headed is your Senior Pastor. Most pastors are 100% supportive. They just want to know where you’re heading. Once your pastor is on board, you can move forward. Then, you go to your staff, elders, deacons, leadership, and families.
- Share the importance of children’s ministry. Help people understand the significance of what you’re doing. Educate them on the importance of the children’s ministry and how it has a major part in setting the spiritual direction of children for life.
- Train and equip parents. Parents are the number one influence on the lives of children. By providing them quality resources, you will give them tools to use at home for discipling their children. Find resources for your church that reinforce what children are learning at home. These resources should have a focus on helping each individual child develop a personal relationship with Christ.
- Train your teachers and leaders what it means to be a mentor and discipler. The worst thing that teachers and leaders can do with children is to educate them with knowledge of Scripture and nothing else. Encourage your teachers to take the next step like Paul did with Timothy. They can begin now to train and equip children in their classrooms. Encourage leaders and teachers to release the children in their classes or small groups to minister using their gifts. It is a proven fact that children and students who serve at a young age stay around in the church in the future.
- Pay close attention to the resources you are using. There are a lot of attractive curriculums out there with all the bangs, pops, and whistles; however, they have very little content and bring little transformation. Do your research. Ask other children’s pastors what they use and be committed to properly training your leadership. Don’t be guilty of just handing out teaching guides in resource kits and thinking that your leaders will use them properly or even know how. Meet regularly with your leaders to train them.
- Get kids involved in ministry. Children have gifts that give them value in the body of Christ. When you allow them to serve, their confidence grows in the church, and the church becomes their ministry. The more they become leaders in our ministry, the less they become targets of our ministry. Luis Bush shares, “Children should be released to minister in the body of Christ today, not as targets of our mission, but coequals in ministry and missions.” When you do this, you will find that they have a lot of fire in their hearts for God’s church and a love and passion to serve Him their King Jesus.
After serving in children’s ministry for the last 28 years, there have been a lot of ups and downs and many battles. However, I would never trade it for anything because my greatest joy in the last 15 years has been watching children grow into mature adult leaders—leaders who I trust as my brothers and sisters in Christ, leaders who I believe listen to the Holy Spirit themselves, knowing that He speaks to them also. I genuinely delight in handing off the baton to them, knowing that they are running a God-honoring race for Christ Jesus.
We are here to help. During the last 15 years, we have developed a process of discipling and equipping children for ministry that has impacted thousands of children in the United States and internationally. If you would like to learn more about L.I.T. Ministries, click here.
 George Barna, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions: Why Children Should be our Church’s Number One Priority. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books 2016), 13.
 Luis Bush, 4to14 Global Summit, Bangkok, Thailand, September 2013.