By Carol Bohrer
It’s easier to teach a lifestyle than to change one! I believe that if churches had a strong culture of “children” and would “raise them up in the way they should go” we would have a natural transition of leaders in our churches. Too often churches leave children’s ministry at the bottom of the pile when finding quality leaders, curriculum, equipment, facilities, etc.
Not only are children more accepting of what they are told than any other age group, they are more receptive to following Christ. Statistics reveal the most likely time for someone to accept Jesus as Savior is between the ages of 7–12. So, it makes sense for churches to pour resources and emphasis into children’s ministry. Not only is this is ripe age for harvest, but the rewards are abundant. They are eager to learn and try new things. Often, they want to be just like you! Imagine training your workers (and potential pastors) from their earliest years.
It is just plain fun to teach children, and since they are literal minded, it is easier. Deep theology is useless with kids. They believe the simple facts and if you say it – they believe it. Their concrete thinking makes it simple to just teach what the Bible says and not defend or explain or prove it. Just as they learn quickly in school, things come easier in church, too – because they believe it!
We use many techniques to educate children, which makes teaching them fun. Games, activities, craft projects, small research projects, music, memory verses, and a host of other styles help class times be varied and interesting. We especially teach to children’s learning styles: visual (things on the wall and around the room), auditory (what and how they hear it), and kinesthetic (what they can touch, feel, build, taste, make, tear apart). Instead of sitting in a circle being lectured, children experience learning in their preferred way. I believe that’s more fun for adults, too!
Teaching children to seek and use their spiritual gifts is another exciting area of training children. It is never too early to teach people to find what is fun and interesting to them, and to begin using it in the ministry of the church. Distributing bulletins, greeting people, helping with the offering, vacuuming, serving meals, singing in the choir. . .are many ways for children to serve Christ. We need to develop an attitude of, “they want me, they need me, they can’t have church without me! I belong here, I am necessary!”
Finally, it always has been a large part of the church’s responsibility to children by helping parents be the best they can be! With so much nonsense being taught (or at least hinted at) in our schools, and such a strong negative influence in our culture, we need to help parents know how to parent. The Christian community needs to step-up, to speak-up and be the defender of our faith and values. Many parents don’t know how to teach their children what they believe, because they were never taught! Lifeway Christian Resources has quality curriculum for dealing with today’s culture, and CSBC also has consultants available to help. Others will happily teach our children what we neglect to teach them. Never has there been a time in history when the church needs to be the voice our children hear. For that to happen, our parents need help!
I disagree with people who say, “children are our future.” If we have children in our church today, “they are our NOW!” God has given them to us, and we need to treat them as the gifts and responsibility they are. The church needs to provide children’s ministry with quality teachers, facilities, curriculum and activities.
In Psalm 22:30 we are told that our children will serve God, because they have learned from us about how wonderful He is. What a promise! What a mandate! What a privilege!
Churches and parents let’s live out that promise for our children, for God and for the Gospel!