Brent Osterberg is associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX. He's married to Keri and has three delightfully crazy children. He blogs at From Pew to Practice-pewtopractice.
Children's Ministry Volunteer-Description of Responsibilities:
- Maintain an environment wherein children are returned to their parents without excessive bleeding or bite marks.
- Glance at assigned weekly curriculum just minutes before you teach it. Relay the lesson to the children, making sure to emphasize the things they need to do to change their behavior and be more like the Bible hero of the week.
- Administer Dixie cups full of watered down lemonade and goldfish crackers after hand-sanitization.
- For the remainder of class, have the children color various coloring sheets of typical Hebrew men with beards, robes, and sandals. Don't forget to write each child's name on the back.
Is this what a person would expect your church's children ministry protocol to say if they peered into your classroom on a typical Sunday morning?
Sadly, children's ministry in the local church can often be seen as second rate ministry, not much more than crowd control and waiting out the clock. This can be seen on the occasions when members looking to move on to bigger and better things will see children's church or AWANA as merely something to cut their teeth on. Or when the church leadership, in a desperate attempt just to fill the volunteer gaps, will try and make children's ministry as burden-less and non-committal as possible. Then, of course, there are those who take a shift with the kiddos just because they feel like they have to do something to serve.
Truth be told, I've thought all these things at one time or another over the years. Only now that my wife and I have kids of our own have I realized the crucial role that children's ministry plays in the lives of the kids it serves, their families, and the church.
So then, in the hopes that more Christians and churches will begin cherishing this ministry and investing in it more copiously, here are11 reasons why children's ministry is not second rate ministry:
- When children hear other people who care about them saying the same things they hear their parents saying, the truthfulness of the gospel is reinforced.
- Children will associate Christianity with the people they encounter in church.
- Many of the kids in children's ministry will be future leaders in the church.
- When James writes, "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with a greater strictness" (3:1), he does not limit "teachers" to those who teach adults.
- Believe it or not, kids remember much of what they are taught at church.
- Simplifying the teaching of Scripture for kids without distorting the truth is by no means easy.
- Kids are inquisitive and therefore provide a lot of opportunity for direct instruction.
- Kids are at a stage in their lives when they have not yet become jaded by the hardships and inconsistencies of life. This means children's ministry volunteers have a great opportunity to impress upon them the truth that life with Jesus is full of hope.
- The excitement that children have about the things of God helps cultivate vigor and vitality in the members of a church in regard to the gospel and ministry.
- It is likely that many of the kids in your church have not yet come to Christ for salvation; so much of what goes on in children's ministry is evangelism.
- Many of us, as Christian adults, have spent years dispelling confusion and misconceptions about the Bible that children's ministry has helped to foster in us. Children's ministry volunteers, then, are serving these kids at a time in their lives when precision and accuracy in teaching can significantly reduce the haze surrounding God's Word that is all too common.