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,
You might ask, why am I here? Why do I exist? For every child in the church today, there is a desire to find purpose and identity. Thinking even more deeply, how do we help a child find their purpose in Christ’s church, and do they really have a purpose at such a young age? I have wondered this myself. Like Jesus’ disciples, I was guilty of hindering children in their walk with Christ. I assumed that their faith was only about taking in information, not about expressing it. In reality, Jesus was speaking to me just as He spoke to His disciples who were with Him every day. Remember His scathing rebuke to His disciples when they hindered the children from coming to Him? “For of such is the kingdom” (Matt. 19:14). Maybe they didn’t see the children as persons to be heard, but only seen. I want to say this with all my heart, KIDS HAVE A PURPOSE IN THE CHURCH TODAY! In fact, children who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior especially do because God has gifted them for service. Here are a few steps you can take to make a shift in the way you minister with kids:
When I told my pastor that I was going to take our 5th and 6th graders on a mission trip and that they would be sharing the Gospel, he thought I was crazy! About thirteen years ago, I felt led by the Lord to take our preteens on a mission trip and release them to lead evangelistic Bible studies in Corpus Christi, Texas. When I shared my idea with my pastor, he thought I had lost my mind! “Wow! Did I hear the Lord?” That thought haunted me on the six and a half hour drive to Corpus Christi. That fear was quickly replaced the first day on the trip when a 5th-grade boy named Mark taught at a local apartment complex. After he shared the Bible study that day, Mark gave an invitation to respond to the message, and seven people accepted Christ—three of them were teenagers!