Every six weeks, I relish the moment between calm and chaos. The space is prepared with snacks, coloring pages, lessons, and crafts. It’s the liminal space when all is prepared, but no one has arrived. There’s a holy anticipation and an unsettling realization that anything can happen.
I hear the tapping of little bodies on the floor above me as the children’s sermon is delivered and then the release. The doors from the sanctuary open as thundering feet crowd the stairwell and make their way to the old church basement. The mix of eager students with hesitant toddlers cascades through the doors. There’s comfort for some who know this space as their second home and hesitancy among others. The transition is quick, but presence and sharp thinking are needed to welcome and see those who need an extra touch of loving care.
I am serving in kid’s ministry.
I get to teach our second and third graders on a regular rotation. In most churches, children’s care is part of the Sunday morning rhythm. There’s a space where they are loved, taught, and hear the same gospel message heralded from the pulpit. But do we give our kid’s instructional time the same attention as gathered worship?
It’s a welcome break in a parent’s week to breathe on Sunday morning. A necessary component to occupy the littlest children so the work of the Lord’s Day can proceed. Although, it isn’t valued the way it should be.The children’s experience of being loved while they hear of Jesus will be held together throughout their lives. Click To Tweet
Jesus had some weighty words concerning children. In Matthew 18, we see the disciples’ concerns about who will hold rank in the kingdom Jesus established. He flips their assumptions and points to humility, dependence, and lack of status as the actual marks of greatness. He modeled approachability and safety where children found refuge and responded to his invitation.
His words to the disciples, “turn and become like children” (Matt. 18:3) to enter the kingdom of heaven, are extended further to action. The mark of a disciple is that verification of your humility is how you treat others—most notably, children. Jesus drives it deeper by saying, “whoever receives one such child in my name, receives me” (Matt. 18:5).
The posture of care for the littlest ones is receiving Christ himself! What an incredible testimony we get to have. To be with Christ through and through means we welcome the children with joy and tangible love. That shows off the reality of the gospel like nothing else.
Jesus’s words inform a critical emphasis on the children’s value in the church’s life and mission. That frame gives a more profound vision of how we care for, lead, and set up our kid’s ministry times. It offers a greater purpose to the recruitment of volunteers. Consider these ideas as you seek to receive every child given to you in Jesus’s name.
Proclaim the Gospel
Resources abound for teaching children. More than ever, we have a myriad of choices in content and options for curriculum. Yet simple gospel proclamation as you open Scripture is the message we want to soak our children in. “So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).
We can complicate our task, but to sow the truth of the gospel each time we have children on a Sunday morning is the primary goal. Parents are the primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives, and we get to come alongside and support their efforts by declaring the gospel’s truth.
Seek to Embody Love
When you welcome a child into a space, you have an opportunity to help them feel loved. Your presence, attention, warmth, and engagement will often have more impact than any words you say. So, seek to create a connection as you move through the lesson tasks, snacks, games, and crafts. The children’s experience of being loved while they hear of Jesus will be held together throughout their lives. Faith is a full-body experience. It models that what our head understands is also experienced relationally.
Include Them in the Church
Children’s ministry is temporary. It’s short-lived as a tool of formation through the developmental milestones of growing up. The church remains where we pray our children find a home in every stage of life. There are ways we can invite them into the body of Christ as necessary and treasured participants in their younger years. It begins with their inclusion into the church while attending to their unique developmental needs.We have an opportunity as churches to invest in our children creatively and purposely, which carries eternal impact. Click To Tweet
Our church starts our Sunday gathering with everyone. The children are called to the front for a mini-sermon reviewing a catechism question. They are then sent down for age-appropriate gospel formation during the core of our service. And joyfully, they are received back for responsive singing and the benediction. This makes what happens upstairs not a mystery but opens a window into the beauty of the local church.
The stories I have and the trust I’ve built with the children of our church over the years are invaluable. Watching them grow not only in years but also in their understanding of God remains a delight. We have an opportunity as churches to invest in our children creatively and purposely, which carries eternal impact. There, we touch on what it means to be great in the kingdom of God.