If you have been around church life for any amount of time, you may have heard a bit of a grumble about children’s ministry. Maybe you have heard the heartfelt cries of a children’s minister asking for more volunteers during the announcements on Sunday morning. Perhaps you have heard the pastor give his annual plea for Vacation Bible School workers. For many, children’s ministry has been falsely viewed as a necessary evil. After all, how will we ever get parents to attend if we don’t have a rocking plan for children? The ministry turns into a glorified babysitting service rather than a God-ordained ministry for his people. There are, however, deep theological motivations that should motivate every church member to support, pray for, and serve children in their church and community.
#1 Children’s Ministry is Disciple-making
From the beginning, God has commanded his redeemed people to be a people that care deeply for children, not just for the sake of the children, but for the sake of the future of God’s people. The expansion of God’s Kingdom into the future will be done through the children that we now care for.
Deuteronomy 4:9-10 “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children— 10 how on the day that you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
God’s plan for the spread of his message in Deuteronomy was through the teaching of children. If the children could learn the important truths of God’s Word, they could spread the message to future generations and eventually to the ends of the earth. As New Testament believers in Christ Jesus, we are called to make disciples of all nations (Mt. 28:19-20) and that call is not age-specific. When a child comes into our church, they often come from homes where all they know is hatred, abuse, and neglect. When they meet you, they are watching very intently to see if there is anything else in this world other than what they know. Children’s ministry is an opportunity to teach the truths of God to children who may otherwise never hear those blessed truths. It is an opportunity to make an impact that goes far beyond what you will ever know or live to see.
#2 Children’s Ministry is a Selfless Service
The Scriptures often group serving children with serving widows and the poor. Each of these classes is similar in that they cannot provide anything in return for service. These types of service uniquely glorify God because they display the same selflessness that God showed in his love for us. Having your own children is a sanctifying reality that will find and reveal every root of selfishness within that you never knew you had. Caring for the children of others does the same.
Mark 9:33-37 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
James 1:26-27 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
#3 Children’s Ministry is a Reflection of the Gospel
God cared for us even though we had nothing to offer him. Just like a baby cannot walk, feed himself, clean himself, nor could he or she survive without the care of an adult, we, likewise, relate to God as helpless babes who could not survive apart from his care. At our salvation, we came to him as children who had nothing to offer, but he set his affections upon us and adopted us as his own. For every hour spent in the church’s nursery and every evening spent wrestling the short attention span of kids, remember what kind of love the Father has given to you. Remember his patience, his forgiveness, and his faithfulness to endure all of your child like behavior.
1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
Luke 18:15-17 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
By His Grace & For His Glory,
Pastor Brandon Langley
St. Rose Community Church