A few Sundays back, I found myself in a unique situation. Pastor Shane was slated to preach, a group of other folks from the church were leading the music, and my only in-service responsibility was to do the welcome prior to the sermon. I’m not entirely sure where the idea came from—maybe it was the Father’s Day mojo?—but I decided to volunteer in our children’s ministry for both services. Here are four things that I’ve been thinking about since Sunday.
1. Jesus Loves Children & I Can See Why
As you read through the Gospels, it becomes apparent that Jesus loved children very much. He healed children when they were sick, he used one little boy’s lunch to miraculously feed five thousand people, he cast demons out of a child, and in one case even raised a little girlfrom the dead. Jesus spoke incredibly stern words of warning against anyone who would intentionally harm a child, and he pointed to kids as an example of the type of humility that we should all cultivate in our own hearts.
Yes, the adults in the family of God are responsible to teach and train these youngest disciples in the faith. However, we the adults need to learn from the children too! Serving in kid’s ministry was a terrific way for me to be reminded of this truth.
2. You Gotta Be Creative
In the second service, I was asked to help out in the 7-8 year old class, and I got grouped with a group of...let’s say energetic young boys. The theme of the lesson was the parable of the good Samaritan. After the video, the teacher’s lesson, and some singing, it was time for us to go back to the classroom and do some activities related to the lesson. One boy in particular just wasn’t having it; all he wanted to do was use his paper and crayons to draw pictures of aliens. After a few attempts to pull him into the story of the good Samaritan, I decided to try a different approach.
“What kind of alien is that?” I asked. “Oh, he’s a water alien, can’t you tell?” he replied. “Oh, of course, now I see. Do water aliens get along with land aliens?” “No, of course not, they are natural enemies!” This little guy had thought of everything. But then I had an idea. “What do you think would happen if the water alien got beat up by a bunch of robbers and then a land alien came along and found him? How could the land alien be a good neighbor to the water alien?” “Oh, well he could take care of him and help him go to the doctor and feed him seaweed and alien fish until he gets better.” All of a sudden, this handful of energetic young boys were interacting with the ideas of the lesson with gusto. I have to admit, I’m a little nervous that I’m going to receive an email from a concerned parent this week with the subject line “why are my kids learning about the parable of the land and water aliens?” But I’m thankful that a moment of creativity enabled these boys to connect with the gospel in a new and fresh way.
3. Our Faithful Teachers Need Backup
I was so impressed by and thankful for the variety of people who are serving in our kid’s ministry. There were both women and men, which is very encouraging since many men don’t want to go to church, much less serve in children’s ministry. There was a wide age range of those serving: parents of young children, grandparents and empty-nesters, high school boys and even my own ten-year-old daughter.
What I didn’t know until Monday when Kyle told me, is that if I had not volunteered to serve in kid’s ministry, they were going to have to close the 7-8 class at the 11 am service. We have so many wonderful and faithful volunteers, but with school ending and summer beginning, a lot of our people are taking some much-needed vacations. The kid’s ministry leadership team told me that many—if not most!—weeks, our ability to pull off all the classrooms for our children is right on the razor’s edge. To put it simply, there is plenty of need and many opportunities to get involved.
4. Ministry to Children Is A Top Priority
We are a church that is predominantly suburban in our geography, and the suburbs are chock-full of families with young children. To put it plainly, ministry to children is and will likely always be a top priority for us as a church. We have community groups serving neighborhood schools. We have people inviting extra kids into their home through foster care and adoption. And yes, every Sunday morning, we have faithful men and women teaching kids about Jesus.
Statistics show us that nearly two-thirds of people who accept Jesus do so before their eighteenth birthday. While statistics are not more powerful than God’s saving grace, and while salvation belongs to God alone and not us, it is certainly informative for us to know just how important it is to have those seeds of faith planted at an early age.
Listen, I am pretty aware that children’s ministry is not where I am primarily called by God to serve and minister. However, I’m thankful that God gave me the opportunity to step into an area of need and help out. Not only did I get the joy of helping and serving, but those kids ministered to me as well. Who knows, maybe I'll turn this into a Father's Day tradition—and drag some other men along with me as well!