An encouragement for those who serve in children's ministry

If you want big-souled, large-hearted men or women, look for them among those who are much engaged among the young, bearing with their follies, and sympathizing with their weaknesses for Jesus’ sake.
— Charles Spurgeon

Children’s ministry is unique in the life of the church. It is simultaneously one of the most challenging and rewarding ministries. There are few ministries in the life of a church that can leave you exhausted and refreshed quite like working with kids. On any given week, children’s ministry leaders and servants can be found running, crawling, jumping, shouting, whispering, laughing, crying, smiling, and frowning.

Leaders in children’s ministry are caretakers, teachers, playmates, mediators, parental figures, and role models. These roles, when fulfilled, produce tired bodies and full souls. Ministering to kids is exhausting. Yet, there is nothing so satisfying as seeing kids learn deep biblical truths for the first time, begin to trust Christ, and grow in intimacy with him.

But the labors of children’s ministry often go unnoticed and volunteers can feel unappreciated. It is tempting to feel like serving in children’s ministry is nothing more than a glorified babysitting service so the rest of the congregation can do real ministry. This couldn't be further from the truth. Children’s ministry is foundational in the spiritual, theological, and worldview formation of a person. As Paul encouraged Timothy:

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:14-15).

John Calvin agreed. He believed the teaching of children was fundamental to the future of the church. He once wrote, "Believe me, the Church of God will never be preserved without catechesis," that is, the teaching of basic bible doctrine to children. Likewise, Puritan Thomas Watson once said, "To preach and not to catechize [teach] is to build without foundation."

If you lead or serve in children’s ministry, Lord knows you aren’t in it for personal glory.

If you serve in children’s ministry, know that your work is most valuable not only for the spiritual formation of the kids you teach, but also for the future of the church. You are not just a babysitter. For some kids, you are a trusted and invaluable partner with their parents as they disciple. For other kids, you may just be the only source of love, grace, and truth they will ever see. Your labors will, for better or worse, shape the way children view the Bible, God, and the church for many years to come. Not many of us forget our teachers.

If you lead or serve in children’s ministry, Lord knows you aren't in it for personal glory. But never forget that you are in children's ministry for glory. Children's ministers and servants are laboring for the glory of the Lord in the little hearts and minds of boys and girls. We are praying, teaching, loving, and leading children for the praise of the glory of the grace of God in Christ.

So, I pray my fellow children's ministry leaders and servants find deep satisfaction in our often difficult and thankless work. I pray we find satisfaction in presenting the gospel to kids. I pray we find satisfaction in teaching small kids big truths to blow their minds and ground their feet. In a culture that is constantly shifting, I pray we resolve to continue teach children the immovable truth of the gospel even if we don't see any results in our time with them. As Charles Spurgeon wrote said, "Oh, that the Spirit of God may help us to do this! The more the young are taught the better; it will keep them from being misled" (Come Ye Children: Practical Help Telling Children About Jesus, pp. 10-11).

Family Friday Links 2016 Year in Review

This is our last set of Family Friday Links for 2016. Lets look back at 16 of our best links from the year. These are not in any particular order. Hope that some of these links maybe ones you missed or a reminder of a good link that you forgot about. 

  1. Ann Voskamp wrote a very strong blog to her sons about how to honor, care for and value women. A quote from the blog says, "When Christ stepped out of that black tomb, he still didn’t choose to first manifest Himself to prestigious officials, religious leaders, the Twelve, but instead He revealed Himself first to the women, He entrusted the veracity of His resurrection to the testimony of the women, He offered the privilege of proclaiming Christ as the risen Savior to the women, though no court at the time would accept their testimony. That’s how God loves His daughters with His regard."
  2. Danny Franks wrote a post on volunteers and the reason they don't continue. He asking (and answering) the question, "Why did their eagerness in orientation and their wonder in the first week of service not translate to a return trip and a lifetime of volunteering?" Leaders and pastors, learn from this.
  3. Our own Jared Kennedy had a post on the ERLC on kids and anxiety. He says, "Our goal shouldn’t be to change how they feel but simply recognize our kids’ emotions and affirm our love." While focusing on keeping our kids safe, we miss out on ministering to their hearts. As parents we need to focus on our kid's hearts, in order to see them grow and mature, not just their behavior.
  4. The Acts 29 Church Planting Network has a post from a church plant in Paris about the kids and church. It reminds us, "We must be intentional in our inclusion of Jesus’ youngest disciples." This is a great reminder for parents and pastors.
  5. Craig Jultila wrote a post on what to do when we feel like giving up. He says, "Honestly, there have been times when I was trying to crawl my way through the tunnel of difficulty hoping, praying, believing for a light at the end! It’s in those moments I must ask myself the following four questions to just keep going." Because we all, regardless of position or status, feel this way this post is helpful.
  6. Jason Allen had a post on tips for leading your kids to Christ. He wrote, "I feel the weight—and glory—of this stewardship daily and find immeasurable fulfillment and joy as I see my children taking steps toward Christ. I am sure many Christian parents feel the same way I do—awestruck by the opportunity and responsibility that is ours." His tips are helpful for both parents and those that work with kids.
  7. Jen Wilkin posted on the Gospel Coalition that talks about the value of children and the fact that  kids are our neighbors. Wilkin's writes, Because if children are people, then they are also our neighbors. This means that every scriptural imperative that speaks to loving our neighbor as we love ourselves suddenly comes to bear on how we parent. Every command to love preferentially at great cost, with great effort, and with godly wisdom becomes not just a command to love the people in my workplace or the people in my church or the people at my hair salon or the people on my street or the people in the homeless shelter. It becomes a command to love the people under my own roof, no matter how small. If children are people, then our own children are our very closest neighbors. No other neighbor lives closer or needs our self-sacrificing love more."
  8. I came across this blog post entitled There Is Grace in Disability by Kara Dedert at the site Special Needs Parenting. Kara says ,"God’s grace has sustained us in deep lament. God’s grace has kept us from walking away in deep struggles of faith. God’s grace allows Calvin to be filled with joy and happiness in his disability. God’s grace has shown us more of His love for us as we care for Calvin. God’s grace has surprised us with unexpected joy in difficult places. God’s grace has made eternal reality more clear and our hope in Christ more urgent."
  9. Here is an article from the Gospel Coalition by 18 year-old Jaquelle Crowe. Her article is entitled 5 Reasons Why Teenagers Need Theology. As a young woman, she gives good insight to parents and youth workers on how to help their students to love theology. Jaquelle writes:

    "I’m 18. I’ve studied and been taught theology all my life. It’s given me many things: a richer relationship with God; a stronger and more submissive relationship with my parents; a more discerning relationship with my friends; a more edifying approach to social media; a zealous desire to do my best in school; a biblical worldview; a bigger vision for my future; and a greater passion to follow God no matter what." 
  10. With the racial unrest that exists in our country, Thom Rainer had a guest post by Joshua Staub on how to help our kids process these issues. Joshua wrote, "When we shield our children from injustice, we become complicit in the tension." He goes on to list 3 things parents need to do to help our kids understand and grow. Parents, read this and help your kids.
  11. Our friend, Sam Luce, wrote a post on the problems with making kids say sorry. He writes, " The problem with saying sorry is sorry can be used to gloss over sin. Repentance digs deeper to the root of sin." Parents, this is a good post for you especially as your kids get older.
  12. Jen Thorn wrote a post on the dangers of a "parent-centered" home. She writes, "We hear a lot of talk about a home not being child-centered. But all too often, without us realizing it, our homes become-parent centered." Parents, this is a good read for all of us to consider.
  13. John Hailes had a post entitled "Raising & Releasing the Next Generation." He writes, "When we include teenagers in our ministry its messy. Sometimes putting them on the stage is even cringe worthy. However, its so unbelievably necessary for our ministries and the future of kidmin…" He goes on to list several reasons this is important. Pastors and leaders this is worth considering.
  14. NavPress has a post up on teaching kids about sex. It reads, "As Christian parents we can do much more than merely pass on information about reproduction. We have the opportunity of shaping the sexual character of our children. " Parents, this is a helpful list with helpful resources.
  15. Jonathan Parnell wrote a post on what parenting means. He writes, "When we begin to see our parenting through the lens of spiritual warfare, it reconfigures our work ..." He goes on to list the 5 ways in which this happens. Parenting is a struggle, just not in the way think; it's a spiritual struggle.
  16. Paul Tripp had a post on the Verge site about kids and missions. He is answering the question, "How early in my child’s life do I disciple this child for ministry and mission and what does that look like?" He answers it this way, "Everything you have is a potential means of ministry…The ideas are endless.” Parents, make mission and discipleship a part of everyday life. Pastors, train parents to do so.

What were your favorite articles from 2016? Please share in the comments section. 

Family Friday Links 11.10.16

Here's what we've found helpful, encouraging, and challenging this week on line:

Joel Beeke had a post on the Ligonier site on discipleship in the family. He ends his post this way, "Luther believed that the stresses of family life offer one of the best environments in which to cultivate Christian discipleship." Parents, you can learn a lot and benefit from this post.

For Every Mom had a post by Ann Shannon on parenting. She wrote, "A helicopter parent hovers overhead and swoops in to save the day whereas a lifeguard parent stands by, encouraging their child to take risks and only jumps in when the child is in over her head and calling for help." Parents, how we parent effects the kind of adults our kids will grow up to be. True failure only happens when we as parents don't help our kids process through and learn from what they experience.

Coleman Wagner had a post on the Village Church blog on the gospel and public school. He writes, "God has made it clear in Scripture that He cares about good teaching, both inside and outside the Church ... " He goes on to give good advice on how this can be done.

Tom McKee had a post on site on mistakes leaders make with their volunteers. He not only lists several mistakes but offers solutions. If you're in leadership of volunteers, this is practical help you need. What is the goal? McKee puts it this way, "they’re awakening passion in the hearts of Christians to make a difference on behalf of Jesus."

What have you been influenced by online this week? Leave us a link in the comment section and we will check it out.

Family Friday Links 9.16.16

Here is our weekly list of things we've found helpful in our online consumption:

Amanda over at Dirt and Boogers wrote a post about after school attitude. She give practical tips that will help parents avoid the attitude. She even gives a little explanation on why this is, "When things get hard, we fall apart on the people we feel safest with." Parents, don't get frustrated, help your kids as they get home from school.

Danny Franks wrote a post on volunteers and the reason they don't continue. He asking (and answering) the question, "Why did their eagerness in orientation and their wonder in the first week of service not translate to a return trip and a lifetime of volunteering?" Leaders and pastors, learn from this.

Russel Moore had a great post on men, and their addictions to pornography and/or video games. Moore states that, "Recent research indicates that millions of men are debilitatingly hooked on leisure." As pastors and parents we need to rescue men and boys from this.

Jason Allen wrote a post on leading kids to Christ. He started his post with this admission, "My greatest stewardship in life is not training a generation of students at Midwestern Seminary. It is training my five young children in the fear and admonition of the Lord." He goes on to list 10 tips that parents and pastors need to remember.