One of the greatest joys I have in ministry today is my leaders—my children leaders. Not adults, but the children of my church. Don’t get me wrong; I love the adult leaders. You see, I have had children serving in my church for more than eleven years. It didn’t start out that way for me, though. I began having children serve out of need. We would fill necessary holes in our ministry with children who could do it. Well, what I didn’t realize was that as I watched them and gave them greater and greater responsibility, they stepped up every time. You may not know it, but each of us in ministry has a calling to equip the saints for works of ministry and not do all of the work ourselves (Ephesians 4:11-13). What saints, you might ask? All of the saints, or believers in Christ. That includes kids! Well, I have done it, and it works. Children are some of the most solid leaders we have in our church. Here are a few steps I took to challenge children and grow their faith:
- Release them to do tasks that are challenging to their faith. I would always push the limits with the L.I.T.s (Leaders In Training) in my church. I would give them large tasks that caused a “crisis of belief” for them and made them turn to God for help. Yes, I added stress to their lives by giving them the impossible, but we serve an impossible God who shows up every time when we cry out to Him.
- Their faith is built as they accomplish the impossible. As you give them difficult tasks and they accomplish them, it is like drilling concrete piers into the ground. Their faith cannot be easily shaken because God works in and through their lives.
- The greater the challenges, the greater the confidence of the child. As I gave them greater responsibilities, they were always ready for the next challenge. One girl who has been serving for more than seven years is now a senior in high school. After I gave her a really difficult task, she told me, “You always give me the impossible, but after I get through it, I am ready for the next task. It builds my confidence to the point that I feel like I can do anything.”
- Start small and then move incrementally to larger and larger tasks. I began with small tasks, and as they were faithful with them, I gave them more.
- Have a high accountability. When I first started out sharing responsibilities with kids, nothing would get done. Then I told them, “When I give you something to do for me, I expect you to follow through and get it done. If you don’t follow through, then I won’t give you any more responsibilities in ministry.” Well, I didn’t have to tell them again. They followed through every time.
- They must prove to you that they can follow through. When something is asked of them, they must finish the task. As they prove their faithfulness, then you begin to move them to greater and greater steps. Remember, challenges cause a crisis, but it turns their hearts to God for the answers and power to walk through the task.
- The church recognizes them as a voice in the body, and they become confident and competent leaders in the church. As I have served alongside these guys and gals for the past ten years, I now listen to their input in ministry. They have a lot to bring to the table. They have wisdom and ideas from the Lord that complement our ministry. I want their opinions. This year for our L.I.T. mission trip, they will be taking the lead, and I will be stepping back and allowing them to take charge. You see, it didn’t happen overnight, but by walking with them through these steps, I recognize that they are now competent leaders in L.I.T. Ministries.
- The students discover their gift(s) and purpose in the church. The joy to me is that they have discovered their spiritual gifts and their purpose in Christ’s church today. We have five kids who have been serving in the church with a total of forty years of experience, and the oldest is only 19 years of age.
I want to challenge you to think out-of-the-box and to take steps to engage children in your church. If you are the children’s pastor, it will be impossible for you to do everything, but if you train your leaders to follow these steps, you will grow up leaders in your church from the bottom (children) up (to adults).