While leading a recent training, I asked the children's ministers and leaders who attended to discuss where children could serve at their church.
They said, “Greeting, helping, helping with the offering.”
It was my joy to show them a bigger picture for children in the church today.
For the last 17 years, I have had the joy of witnessing firsthand the Holy Spirit working in the lives of children.
There is nothing wrong with taking the offering and greeting on Sunday morning.
However, children can also teach, work with younger children, take on administrative tasks, and so much more. We had three 5th grade girls begin teaching 2nd graders at our church.
I have heard many arguments about children’s church and why children should not be in a separate service for their age group. Some believe that they should be sitting with their parents in the service—I do, too! Others would say that it is an excuse for them to skip church and hide out in children’s church. I want to challenge your perspective, whichever it may be.
I served on staff in five different churches. At two of them, I did not have a say about whether kids would sit with their parents or were welcome in children’s church. The main reason for children’s church was that our worship center did not have enough room for the kids. So, we provided children’s church. The choice was made for me…I was going to do children’s church.
The other day I was talking with a children’s pastor in my area. She was very frustrated because she had moved a group of preteens that she felt were ill prepared into the student ministry of her church. She talked with the student pastor shortly after the transition, and he told her that it was too late, that they were set in their ways and there was little hope of their lives changing at this point.
The fingers point in many directions in the church trying to cast blame; however, the answer to the problem is to stop doing what we are doing and move to a model of intentional discipleship and empowering of children and preteens for ministry.
Allen Nelson shares,
We had hit the end of our midweek program, and I was completely exhausted.
I hate to say it, but I was praising God that it was over.
Nine months straight of Wednesday evenings, and I just wasn’t seeing a lot of fruit for such a labor-intensive program.
For all the work we were doing, it wasn’t making much of a difference in the lives of the kids in our church.
I wasn’t experiencing much joy in this journey either.
Fast forward five years to May 2002.
I was called to a children’s pastor position in Fort Worth, Texas.