Virginia Beach pastor, Jimmy Brock, and I did a video workshop for the Grow Virtual Conference in August with this title. We looked at the Scripture, Stories, and Suggestions for children’s ministry with the long view of discipleship in mind. In the blog post I would like to further narrow in on the Scripture and Suggestion areas to encourage children’s ministry leaders as you so tirelessly work week to week with your kids.
Psalm 78 is my go-to children’s ministry scripture. When you read the first seven verses with the long view in mind, you quickly see that the really long view is not new—in fact, it has been God’s plan all along. “Tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and His might . . . He commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children.” Do you catch that long view from one generation to the next and to the next?
What do we want our preschoolers to look like when they are teens and our teens when they are young adults and parents? This is the question we asked when looking at the long view of discipleship. You probably have a mission/vision statement that incorporates some of these goals, but here’s how you can flesh that out. Here’s what we want for our kids:
- To know God—His nature and character
- To know God’s Word from Genesis to Revelation as one big story of Jesus
- To have a personal relationship with Jesus and love Him more every day of their lives
- To grow in new obedience through the power of the Holy Spirit
- To worship God in Spirit and truth, loving the body of Christ they worship with
- To share the gospel with others, both near and far
- To have a biblical world and life view that directs them in every area of their lives
Wow, now you might be thinking to yourself, that sounds good, but how do we do that? By being faithful, by trusting God’s promises, and by loving our kids.
By being faithful in telling the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord. This means that we teach the Bible week after week from a Reformed and covenantal perspective. Every story is about Jesus, and He is the Founder and Perfector of our faith (Heb. 12:2). We teach all of Scripture at every age level according to their level of understanding so that as they grow physically, mentally, and emotionally, they are also growing in spiritual understanding.
This means that no matter how great our teaching and how much we love our children, we must rest and trust in the covenant promises of our great God, knowing He is the One who draws our children to Himself and saves them from death to life. It is a miracle of God with every child that they believe and trust in Jesus. Our confidence is found in His Word. Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
This means that we love on the children of the church as if they were our own, for indeed they are part of our covenant family. We live life in relationship to them (warts and all)—worshiping with them, teaching them, serving with them, and just showing up. This relationship begins in the nursery when we hold them on Sunday morning and pray over them. It means we wipe their noses through the toddler stages and praise them for the new skills in crawling or walking. This means we pick them up on the playground at age two or three when they tumble down, and we wipe off their knees and kiss their boo-boos. This means we listen to their stories when they play their first sports game or listen to their excitement over learning to read. This means we have joy and excitement over the things that they are excited about, and this means that we shed tears with them when they are sad or have hard things happen in their lives. This means we share with them the good news of Jesus at every opportunity—how He has forgiven our sins and He loves us and wants the very best for us always.
None of the things I have talked about above are new to you. They are simply a reminder to keep the long view of discipleship in mind—when you can’t find enough nursery workers or the preschool bathroom flooded or the myriad of unexpected things that come when working with children.
Be faithful, trust God, and love kids.