Early in my ministry one of the biggest mistakes I made was investing most of my energy making sure our environments were fun and exciting. I was more concerned about whether the kids had fun, than whether the kids had an encounter with God.
I noticed early on that every parent when they picked up there kids would ask two questions.
- Did you have fun?
- What did you learn?
I made it my goal to make sure every kid had a positive answer for both questions every week. I’m not saying our ministries shouldn’t be fun, they should; kids should want to come to church. With that said, our programs need to be more than just fun, high energy environments.
Each week we must:
Teach who God is and what He has done for us.
We can’t just play games, focus on Bible trivia, or stick to the easy familiar stories. We need to create an environment where kids can have an encounter with God.
A place where kids can experience God’s presence, hear his voice and go deeper with Him.
Intentionally equip kids to serve Christ.
- Know more about video games than they know about God.
- Love peer approval more than they love Jesus.
- Think of their own needs before the needs of others.
Teach life application not just information
Its one thing for the kids to know a familiar Bible story, it’s another to be able to apply the story to daily life. Every service, I want every kid to understand that what we are teaching can be applied everyday to their life.
For example; When Moses heard God speak through a burning bush. Unless kids learn how to hear the voice of God and how God speaks, that story means nothing. I want kids to:
- To know God intimately.
- To Love God passionately.
- To Serve God selflessly.
Those things don’t happen if our ministries are only focused on having fun.
When our programs are all about having fun, it robs kids and families we serve of spiritual growth. We only have so many opportunities to speak into a child’s life, eventually they will transition from our ministry. The foundation we set today will be what they build on as youth and young adults.
I teach it to my team this way, “let’s pretend we work in the school cafeteria and all we serve is junk food. The kids would go home bragging about lunch, but are they healthy?” I never want to fall into the trap of serving “spiritual junk food”.
I want everything we do to have a purpose. And what greater purpose than to lead kids to have an encounter with God.
I used to get angry when people would describe children’s ministry as child care. Child care is a kind way of saying babysitting. As children’s leaders we are not babysitters. But if all we do is goof around, play games and have fun for an hour while parents are in the adult service, then yeah, we are babysitters.
I decided a long time ago, what my ministry is defined by is not what people are saying but by what we are intentionally doing. Each week I intentionally lead kids into an encounter with God. I create an environment where kids want to come and attend, but where God can move and kids can hear the voice of God and make a decision to have a relationship with Him.
- How are you making the most of the time you have with the kids in your ministry?
- Have you been guilty like me in creating more fun than depth?
- What can you do this week to be more intentional about leading kids into a deeper relationship with God?
Author: Andrew VanDerLinden.