I’m in San Diego for five days to attend the Children’s Pastors Conference (CPC13). Today I was reminded of the magnificent love of God, experienced the welcome and hospitality of lots of different people, had dinner with a wonderful group of children’s ministers from Ontario and met some great people who read my blog. Thanks to you all.
DAY THREE: RAISE THE BAR IN KIDS’ MINISTRY We face a great change in kids’ ministry today as we deal with a lost generation. The kids that we are trying to reach are often the children of parents who are unchurched; they might even have grandparents who have never heard about Jesus. How are we to reach these kids? This was the question that Chad Miller, Kit Rae, John Tietsort and Michelle Anthony dealt with in different ways today. In all the sessions the theme of raising the bar came across loud and clear.
We need to raise the bar in kids’ ministry:
By challenging our kids to a higher commitment – kids aren’t scared of commitment. They’ll give up a sleep-in to play their favourite sport in a team. If their swimming or football or softball coach can ask this of them, we certainly can ask for them to commit to God and to commit to their Christian group or church.
By challenging our kids to get into the Bible at a deeper level – Our aim should be to teach scripture to produce faith not just knowledge. We need to help children to see the big story of the Bible and that God is the main character in the story. We need to help them understand the context of any passage they are learning about. We should be giving them the tools they need to dive deep into a Bible passage.
By challenging our kids to go and make disciples – this commandment is not just for adults; we can train and encourage our children to share the good news as well. Chad Miller asks the question: “have we lowered the bar so much that all we want is for kids to recite what God did rather than celebrate what God does?” He encourages us to TEACH-DEMONSTRATE-RELEASE; that is we should teach them something, show them how to do it, and let them do it alone.
By moving from informational learning to transformational learning – In our teaching we need to give times and opportunities for kids to respond to what they are learning about God so that they can be transformed. By carving out spaces for kids to put their faith into practice we will see God do amazing things.
By letting God do His work through the Holy Spirit – It is God who is in control of how our kids are transformed. We can provide great programs and wonderful leaders, but it is the Holy Spirit who changes people. To partner with God in this we need to:
• be attentive to what is happening in our kids’ lives
• stop talking and start listening
• ask questions
• stop spoon-feeding how to apply a bible passage in their lives and let kids discern the application for themselves
• create a safe place where kids can encounter God’s love
By moving from behavioural modification to spiritual formation – Too often kids’ ministry lessons can send kids home thinking that Christianity is all about changing their behaviour. But it is when our kids abide in Jesus that they will bear fruit. Their behaviour will change but not because they are trying really hard to be different, but because their heart has been changed.
By supporting parents as they help their children to know and follow God – We can give them guidance and support and we can give them resources that will help. For the parents that this is new to, we can also TEACH-DEMONSTRATE-RELEASE so that they can do their job. But sometimes we will have to stand in the parents’ place as they find their own spiritual feet.
Are you ready to raise the bar in your kids’ ministry? Can you see where it needs to be raised?
May God bless you in your ministry,