Children’s ministry today is sometimes driven by less than biblical motivation. Yes, we recognize that children are important to Jesus. Still, we often see children primarily as a means to reach and keep adults who are more strategic to the way we think a church should function. We forget that the end is embedded in the beginning of a person’s life, and only with great effort does one escape the direction set in his earliest years.
Our ministry philosophy, also, is often compromised by Satan’s enticing lures. We operate by clever, human designs that bear little resemblance to biblical principles. As church communities grow, they can seem more like country clubs, or cost effective corporations than training camps to prepare God’s people for spiritual battle. And, tragically, in our ministry to children, we can miss almost entirely the “main thing” that God clearly states should be the main thing.
It’s so easy to miss the truth that the Bible, although a library of books, is one continuous story centered around one controlling theme: the glory of God. We thirst for the brackish water of religious humanism which leaves us ever more thirsty, dulls our senses, and makes it difficult to drink at the Fountain of pure, Living Water. Cultural norms which run cross current to Jesus’ clear teaching suck us in, and we end up striving to reach goals that have little eternal value. In so doing, if we don’t ignore children, we idolize them. Children become our focus, not Jesus – not God’s glory.
At either extreme, children suffer. They can grow up thinking they are entitled to “the good life” (which, by the way, is difficult to find in Scripture) and thus see Jesus as the great Provider of all things necessary for their comfort. Whether or not Jesus lives up to their expectations, they can miss out all together on experiencing God who created them to reflect His character and marvel at His mighty works.
The “main thing” as Jesus taught it is to give up in order to grasp what is good. It is to die to self in order to live a life that honors Him. It is to seek God’s Kingdom first, not our own, confident that He indeed can and will “add all things necessary” to our life.
The exciting thing is – children can grasp these spiritual realities while they are children! We who mentor them must make sure these truths are clearly presented and prayerfully trust God’s Spirit to weave them into the very fabric of their young lives. It is upon this framework that we must build our FUN programming. For some of us, this mandates reconstruction. It may mean that things we “tack on” now as extraneous will be moved into the center of attention.
How do we do this? We’d be grateful for your thoughts on this. In the meantime, we’ll try to wrap up this discussion with our next entry.
Nancy Tichy, KidZ At Heart International author