Adventure Pals Blogs
Restarting Your Children’s Ministry (part 6)
Now that you’re getting started, don’t stop! Build on what you have. If you have a successful VBS or Soccer camp in the summer, host something related in the Fall, Winter, and Spring. In addition, invite children and families to special events. US Mail, email, text, phone, and personal visits are all helpful. Invitations to your Christmas and Easter services are the minimum. But don’t forget other holidays like Mother’s day, Father’s day, Thanksgiving, and Back to Church Sunday.
If you’ve started to implement even just some of these things, you’re getting busy. You should be building relationships with children and parents alike in a number of different venues. Prayerfully you have a couple of children/families attending events and perhaps even Sunday School and/or Worship Services.
Unfortunately, these folks are probably not coming on what we might consider a regular basis. Don’t be discouraged. There are many activities that happen on Sunday and it takes time to adjust schedules. Consider this as well, if a new person or family attends your church just once a month, it is 12 more times than they attended the previous year.
Though it may be small, there is growth happening. Praise the Lord! But don’t be surprised, you are most likely beginning to experience some growth issues. Not the least of these is spiritual opposition, which is why ongoing prayer is so important. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10–12).
Another typical growth issue is finances. Somebody has probably already noticed that more money is going out than coming in for what “little” results you’re getting. Remember two things. Little is much in the hand of God – Jesus fed 5,000 men with a little boy’s lunch. Restarting your children’s ministry is an investment; an investment in the future of your church, the Kingdom, and the souls of girls and boys. Keep investing, “For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21).
Actually, finances tend to be the easy part. The bigger problem is that you have more children coming to events and church. That’s wonderful! But where are the workers?
The workload has increased, but it’s the same workers time and again. You need help! Don’t be discouraged. Continue to pray for workers. Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matt. 9:37-38). Ask the Lord for help. And then ask everyone you know as well. Call friends who attend other churches. If they can’t help, maybe they know someone who can. Are there people who used to attend, but left because there was no children’s ministry? Invite them to come back and get involved.
Just as vital, don’t overlook the people you have. Last year nobody wanted to teach the 5th & 6th grade Vacation Bible School class at our church. I understand. This can be a scary age group. Eventually two of our older ladies agreed to take the class on the condition they would have help with what I term “crowd control.” We connected them with a man in his early 60’s. He is a large man with a big heart for children. There was no way he was going to teach this class, it is not his gift. However, his presence provided a calming effect for both the children and the teachers. It was one of the best years for this class anyone can remember.
As your enlisting workers, make sure they know what is expected of them. What is it, specifically, you are asking them to do? Are you giving them what they need? Or, do they need to develop some or all of it on their own? How much time will they have? How much help will they have? Who are they responsible to? You get the idea.
Now this is important! When preparing for events, don’t assume everyone knows how to lead a child to Christ. Don’t you just share the Gospel with them? Yes, but what does that mean and how do you do it? The basic outline is simple: acknowledge that you are a sinner, believe that Jesus died for your sins, and receive Him as your Savior. The problem is, many times we use statements that are difficult for children to understand. For example, we often have children “ask Jesus to cleanse them from their sins and come into their hearts.” Or “ask Jesus to save them.” We know what that means, but it can be confusing for a child – taken literally, it is difficult to understand how Jesus can live inside your body.
Beginning a discussion about salvation is not as hard as many tend to think. It can be scary and that is what usually stops us. If you are already discussing the Bible or biblical things, simply asking them if they have ever asked Jesus to forgive them of their sins or be their Savior is generally a good lead in question. If they say “no,” ask them if they’d like to do it right now. If they say “yes,” great! Move on to making sure they understand the Gospel! If they say “no,” find out why not. This works with all ages, children and adults.
While the exact wording is not as important as conveying the concept, the following order may help in a child’s understanding of the Gospel. It is a little longer than the typical “sinners prayer,” because the goal is clarity. You want them to truly understand what they are doing. Simplicity is key. Do not use words the child does not understand. And, as you go through step by step, make sure they really grasp each one. This might best be done by asking questions such as, “Do you know what it means to sin?” or “Do you know what God means when He says “Eternal or Everlasting life?”
- God loves you.
- You have sinned – done things contrary to God.
- Jesus died to pay the penalty (punishment) for your sin.
- You must admit to God that you are a sinner and ask Him to forgive you.
- Thank Him for His promise to always be with you and to give you the gift of everlasting life.
- Explain Jesus rose from the grave the first Easter morning to show that God has the power to do all He has promised.
- Explain they are now a child of God and part of the Family of God.
- Explain they need to do this only once and it will last forever. However, as we still fall short – we sin – it is appropriate to continue to pray and confess our sins to Him.
Though not always possible, it is good practice to use a Bible to guide the child, especially if they are able to read the verses for themselves. Here a couple verses you might find helpful. (If you have difficulty remembering them, start with John 3:16 and write the Romans 3:23 & 24 reference in the margin so you will know where to go next.)
- John 3:16
- Romans 3:23 & 24
- Romans 5:8
- Ephesians 2:8 & 9
- 1 John 1:8 & 9
As you’re going through these verses you may need to explain that Jesus and Christ refer to the same person. Jesus is his name. Christ – or Messiah – is his title. These are often used interchangeably in the Bible. While he is often referred to as Jesus Christ, it might be more accurately stated as Jesus the Christ. And, if necessary, you might also need to explain that while Jesus is the “Son of God,” he is also God. As an adult, wrapping your head around the Tri-Unity of the Godhead can be difficult. Fortunately, most children do not struggle with this concept. (O to have the faith of a child.)
Does it work? I included sharing the Gospel here because of the 5th & 6th grade Vacation Bible School class mentioned above. During the week, one of the teachers found herself able to speak privately with one of the girls in the class. She was burdened for this child but unsure of what to say. Then she remembered what we had gone over about sharing the Gospel during preparation for Vacation Bible School. She started by asking the question, “Have you ever asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins and be your savior.” When she said “no” the teacher immediately followed up with, “Would you like to?” After thinking for a moment, she said “Yes.” They worked through all the points listed above to ensure she understood what she was doing. What joy for both as she prayed and became a child of God that night!