Helping Children Hear the Voice of God

During one of our summer preteen mission trips, the Lord spoke to one of our leaders through a little girl. Maggie (5th grade) had an impression during one of our evening worship services to pray for this adult leader.

She walked Hearing the Voice of Godup and asked the leader if she could pray for them. The leader said, “Sure.” So, Maggie began praying, mentioning three things the Lord had put on her heart.

Well, it doesn’t seem like a big deal until you hear the other side of the story. The leader she prayed for was feeling discouraged that night. Before this little girl prayed, the leader was in the back of the worship center praying and seeking the Lord. While the leader was praying, three specific things were heavy on their heart.

When Maggie prayed, she was unaware of the leader’s struggles and concerns.

The leader told me, “You won’t believe this. She prayed for me, listing off the exact same things I petitioned the Lord about in the exact same order.”

This may not be strange for some, but I have been a children’s pastor for the past 26 years, and I started witnessing things like this about 15 years ago and continue to do so today.

One of my favorite stories is when we were in Corpus Christi, Texas, in the summer of 2004 for our first out-of-town mission trip.

The trip was with preteens (5th and 6th graders) from my church. We took about 27 kids to Corpus to share the Gospel in apartments complexes there.

The difference of this trip from anything we had done before was that the Lord had led us to fully release kids to do all the leading of the Bible studies, worship, and counseling lost children.

The first day of the trip, a 5th grader named Mark taught from the Bible in front of a group of about 15 children and teenagers.

After he taught, he invited them to respond, and seven people accepted Christ that day—three were teenagers. We were all amazed at how God used him!

Mark shared with me that night, “When I was teaching, I felt something like fire going through me.” I told him, “Mark, that is the Holy Spirit.”

I want to challenge you today to rethink a child’s role in the church today.

Scripture tells us that those who call upon the Lord shall be saved (Roman 10:9-10). In most churches, it stops there.

But let’s go a little further. Ephesians 1:13 tells us, “In whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”

I can’t find anything in my Bible that says it is a “baby” Holy Spirit if the believer is a child. They have THE HOLY SPIRIT, the same as anyone else!

Well, if they have the Holy Spirit, then they have also been gifted by the Holy Spirit for ministry.

Okay, this is the part that threw me off until I witnessed it for myself—in light of knowing who lives in them, it gives us a fresh perspective of believing children in the local church.

I personally have stopped looking at them as the future church, but the church today.

Here is what I am saying: since believing children have the Holy Spirit living in them, they have a calling to serve using their gifts today, and we have a calling to equip them for service (Eph. 4:11-13).

Children who have the Spirit in them have a voice today because He can lead them just like He leads us. Here are a few observations and steps you can take to help children hear from the Lord as well as gain a voice in the church today:

  1. Believe in them. Yes, they are kids, but knowing that the Lord lives in them causes us to want to include them in our conversations and leadership. Take the time to listen to what they have to say. You may be surprised by how God can speak to them and through them. One leader shared that she gives the kids a ministry and allows them to come up with the ideas on what they do. It works!
  2. Challenge them to seek God for direction. A while back, one of our new 6th graders was praying and felt led of the Lord to teach. Fortunately, my assistant was listening and being sensitive to the Lord. So, she called Sarah and asked her to pray about teaching. Well, Sarah knew right then that the Lord was speaking to her. She had just prayed about this very thing before my assistant called. Sarah started teaching about two weeks later. She was an amazing, gifted teacher. Her assistant was a seminary student. Remember, Sarah was only 11 years old!
  3. Challenge them and release them to succeed. Too many times, we have hurt the faith of our kids by putting them in the “box” that they are not developmentally ready for certain things of the faith. I have found just the opposite. When I put them out of their comfort zone and give them something too big for them to handle, they cry out to God. He shows up and works through them, and they give Him the glory. Here we go again—I give them something that is beyond their abilities, and it causes a crisis of faith in them that forces them to turn to God. God in turn answers their prayers and works in and through them. Their faith in God is set for life.
  4. Help them discover their spiritual gifts. This has been my greatest joy, to watch children in my church grow up to be amazing leaders. One girl in particular was in the 4th grade when she started serving in the ministry. She took over our preteen resource room and kept it in order. She had the gift of administration/organization. Also, while in the 4th grade, she began helping with our bus ministry. In the 5th grade, she was made the director of the bus ministry. Every week, she called about 25 children to arrange Sunday morning pick up. She also worked in several after-school programs, and she became my assistant on our mission trips. She is an amazing young lady! She started doing ministry in 4th grade, and now she is a sophomore in college, still serving the Lord wholeheartedly. Get your copy of our free spiritual gift test click here

So here is my invitation: Step out of the box. Allow believing children in your church to discover their purpose by giving them a voice. Give them challenging roles that seem impossible for a child, and you will see God work in and through them.

If you would like more information on how you can disciple, equip, and release children in your church to do ministry, we invite you to join us at one of our many ETNG Children’s Ministry Leadership Summits. We will show you biblical principles you can follow to empower the next generation in your church for ministry today. For more information click here.