Christian LivingYouth & Kids

I’m not passionate about kids’ ministry – but it still matters (Part 1)

Kids’ ministry is not my passion.

At a kids’ ministry conference a few years ago, I sat in a group as each person shared introductions.

“Hi, I’m Sheryl and I’m passionate about kids’ ministry…”

“Hi, I’m Michael and I’m passionate about kids’ ministry…”

After several similar greetings, I decided to make a point. When my turn came around I said, “Hi I’m Pete and I’m not passionate about kids’ ministry”.

After the stunned silence I had to quickly add, “… at least not all the time!”

When those who serve in children’s ministry continually use the language of being ‘passionate’, it can undermine the value of children’s ministry in the church.

For a start, it creates an easy out for those who are not passionate, and it also makes people question their responsibilities when they are not feeling passionate all the time.

Kids’ ministry is certainly not only for those who are really passionate about kids—whatever that means. It is the responsibility of us all. You may not be as thrilled or excited or gifted as the next person in teaching young people, but I hope to show how all the church can help towards the goal of raising the children of your church into men and women who know, love and joyfully serve our Lord God through his Son, Jesus Christ.

So, where should we start? How about a vision for children’s ministry from Ancient Israel.

My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
his power, and the wonders he has done.  

He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
 Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
They would not be like their forefathers—
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
whose spirits were not faithful to him.
(Ps 78:1-8)

Here is a wonderful picture of teaching children about God in Ancient Israel. But it’s also an enthralling vision for the children’s ministry in your church. The goal is to impart the words of God to one generation, in such a way that when they are old enough, they will tell it to the next generation.

Verse 7 shows how this is no mere head knowledge. The goal of this instruction is that the children would turn and trust God.

Over the next two articles, I’ll outline some principles for a family ministry that teaches children in a way to help them trust God. Where possible, I’ll try to steer clear of particular structures or programs so as to concentrate on the principles and leave you the flexibility to apply these in your own context.