A few weeks back I was invited to share at the North Georgia United Methodist Church’s Children’s Ministry Connection training event. The original speaker was going to be out of the country, so I was honored to present in her absence.
Just to clarify: the task was to offer practical suggestions to nurture each child’s call into ministry…not seminary…but a lifestyle of ministry both inside and outside the local church…and to do so in a way that nourishes, feeds, and trains up a child (Ephesians 6:4, Proverbs 22:6) in partnership with Mom & Dad to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and mind.
We have access to the best resources, many opportunities, and a Christian culture that covers everything from clothing lines to music genre. But I really want more for my kids than to be good kids, get good grades, have good friends, be led by good coaches, meet a good boy/girl, get into a good college, and live a good life. I want to provide them with experiences and memories so that they live out 1 John 1:1 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – THIS we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”
Chad Miller from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association shared at a Children’s Pastor’s Conference a few years back about using a teach/hold/release method (like teaching a kid how to use a hammer) by putting a greater emphasis on experiencing God and not just knowing the right answer. In an ongoing way, it’s important to be sure that kids…
1. Know the Gospel – The Good News is that Jesus died for our sins so that we can be reconciled to God, but it’s even better than that! It is Good News that each kid is loved by God, forgiven by God, and raised to new life in Christ Jesus (letting them know there should be a difference in who they are today and who they will be as they choose daily to follow and worship Jesus.) AND Jesus invites them to a great adventure of living in the Kingdom of God here on earth…when bad things happen, God uses us to help make things right (missions with a message, not just charity).
2. Practice Holy Habits – Give lots of experiences and tell lots of stories to build habits in attending church, having daily time in God’s Word, hearing His voice in opportunities of solitude and silence (Silent Night), praying (during the presentation, we stopped and participated in silly putty prayers,) and tithing (John D Rockefeller said, “It was easy to give my first million dollars to the church because I started when I tithed on my first $1.50.”…Dave Ramsey/Rachel Cruze sharing that putting something in the plate each time it passed is an exercise in trusting God with money…because we serve a generous God, we are called as God’s people to be generous…at WC we use the monthly Bible Bucks store to practice God’s way of handling money 10% to give, 10% to save, you can choose to spend the rest or not.)
3. Learn the Scriptures – We are wired for stories and the bible is fully of family stories. Choose a scripture for the year. Write them on mirrors, shower bags (put in a Ziploc bag and let the friction of the water stick it to the shower wall.) Pray the scriptures (lectio divina with paint sample cards.) Teach them the common scriptures (Jeremiah 29:11) and the funny ones (Luke 1:35 “Be dressed and ready for service.”)
4. Go on Field Trips and Tell the Stories – Deliver a cake, pack a shoebox, write a note, decorate a card, decorate for VBS training, pay for the next guy at the drive through, clean up the front of the movie theatre you take the kids to, teach them to be noticers. Bring in others to tell the stories of their field trips (we used to call these ‘testimonies.’)
We have 5 intentions for nurturing each child’s call into ministry at Wesley Chapel: Grow, Tell, Serve, Worship, Belong. The next five blogs will lay out more practical experiences within each arena to nurture each child’s call into ministry.
How do you nurture each child’s call into ministry? By setting the stage/arena for personal encounters with the living God and letting each one celebrate by talking about it!
“You, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house (are we letting little people be built into a spiritual house?) to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices (spiritual experiences that are so imprinted as memories around the Lord, that once they’ve had a taste of service and ministry, they can’t go back and they won’t forget) acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5