These words conjure up all sorts of thoughts and images in our minds; some good and some not so good. Children reciting Bible verses, singing choruses, having fun at VBS, and recounting Bible stories are generally good thoughts. Finding volunteers, creating adequate space, acquiring funding, finding volunteers, balancing schedules, managing behavior… did I mention finding volunteers? Unfortunately, most of the times, the images brought up by the mention of these particular parts of the ministry are less than favorable, leading many, including myself, to fall back on the age-old “Christian” cliché of, “It’s not my gift.”
I am often asked, “Why did you go into Kid’s Ministry? You must really love kids.” While I would never say I don’t love kids, I would never have described myself in the past as a “kid person.” My undergraduate degree is in secondary education, not elementary, and I taught juniors and seniors, not kindergartners or first-graders. One thing I did feel strongly was a call to ministry and to building the kingdom of God. When I started serving in ministry in 2010, one thing became clear to me:
If you really want to grow God’s kingdom, you have to make ministry to children and families a priority.
There simply was no way around that fact.
In his book, “Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions,” George Barna of the Barna Research groups shares the following information:
- 32% of all people who come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior at a young age (age 5-12) continue in or come back to their faith in their lifetime.
- Alternately, only 6% of adults and 4% of teens without prior exposure to Christ will ever come into relationship with Him.
- The majority of churches spend the largest portion of their ministry budget on programs targeted towards adults.
- Many children’s programs state that a major part of their purpose is to entice the parents of attending children to begin visiting or attending the church.
Imagine what it would look like if a church used this information to prioritize the faith formation of children as a primary way to grow the kingdom of God.
Children’s and Family Ministry, directed towards and dedicated to children and to strengthening the family, is the number one way to build God’s kingdom and to bring people into the body of Christ.
The latest statistics released by Barna in the 2014 Year in Review confirm this need to invest in children and families.
- For the first time since Barna Group and American Bible Society’s Bible engagement tracking began, Bible skepticism is tied with Bible engagement at 19% of the population each.
- The #1 characteristic Millenials (18-29) are looking for in a church is community (family).
- In spite of “Christian” self-descriptions, more than one-third of America’s adults are essentially secular in belief and practice
If we want to see the kingdom of God grow, we will do so by investing in the youngest members of our church body and equipping their parents and caregivers to disciple them in the faith and in relationships with other believers.
When D.L. Moody, great Christian evangelist and teacher, was close to death, someone asked him, “If you could go back and do anything differently, what would it be?” His response:
“If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God.”
– D.L. Moody
Since I am living now, I feel compelled to do just that because that is where God’s kingdom is growing every day.