What Role Should Children Have in Ministry?

When you think of church, do you think of it as a place where boys and girls walk in each week, sit down, color a few Bible-character pages copied off the Internet, and wait to be entertained?

Is church something for children to check off the weekly “to-do” list just because their parents said they should be there?

Are children too young to understand missions and ministry and the idea of serving others in Jesus’ name?

Before answering these questions, take a good, long, hard look at your church and your children’s ministry. Are the children in your church being encouraged to participate in ministry? Are they regularly being trained to serve others through ministry? Is your church’s focus simply on keeping the children entertained, busy, and out of the way of the adults each week?

For a few minutes, think about what it would mean if your church’s children were fully involved in your church’s ministry. Think about what it would mean if they were actually “being” the church instead of church “being done” to or for them.

As you think about these things, also ask yourself this very difficult question: Are the children in your church worth the extra time, energy, and expense required to move them from “seeing” church to “doing” ministry? Some people might honestly answer that question by saying, “Yes, training children to do ministry is too difficult, too time consuming, and too costly to the budget.” In reply, we might ask, “But, aren’t the children worth it? Isn’t their training as important as anything else the church does?”

Other people might think about those questions and honestly say, “Children are simply too young to serve in ministry. We should wait until they become teenagers or move into adulthood before we consider them for ministry.”

How do people come to the conclusion that children are too young to serve in ministry? Does the Bible teach that children can’t begin serving before a certain age? If it does, I haven’t found it anywhere. The Great Commission doesn’t set an age requirement. Paul challenged believers to not hold Timothy’s youthfulness against him.

Here’s what I have found in working with children. When children know what we expect of them, they rise to the occasion. That’s why it is so important to regularly talk to children about the importance of consistent church attendance, to give them responsibilities in the missions room and during worship services, to greet guests, to lead worship songs, to pray, and to minister in the community. We should never assume that children can't do something until we let them try.

Each February, national WMU offers an opportunity for children to move from their missions room to their community. Have you heard of Children’s Ministry Day (CMD)? The suggested date this year is February 18; however, churches will want to schedule the ministry focus on whatever day works best for your church, leaders, and children.

What is Children’s Ministry Day? Well, just imagine the children of your church serving in your community through acts of compassion and kindness. Imagine them helping a senior adult with their yard work, serving in a homeless shelter, taking cookies to a nearby fire station, or dozens of other ministry opportunities. Now, multiply all of those efforts by thousands of children across North America, and you see the scope of Children’s Ministry Day.

To learn more about CMD, visit wmu.com/CMD. Then, once your missions organization commits to participate, be sure to share your work for others to see. Use the hashtag #CMD2017 with your social media posts.

 

As a husband, father, pastor, and editor, M. Steve Heartsill has used many words in his life. Hopefully, he’ll not run out of them anytime soon.

 

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