Anchors for Children's Minstry

Below are a lists of bullet points that help explain my philosophy of Children's Ministry.

I. Children are Important

Children were not valued in the 1st century. You can see this in the life and ministry of Jesus. Luke 18:15-17, “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” The surrounding culture tried to minimize the importance of children, even the disciples, Jesus rebuked them. Children are important to Jesus and should be important to us.

Our society does not value all children. If our society valued children, abortion would not be so prominent in our culture. We also would have more people willing to adopt children that are not able to be cared for by their parents. We also would not have more households in America with dogs than children. Children are important to God and should be important in the church.

II. Children are Sinners and need a Savior.

One side of our culture says that children are unimportant while the other side of the culture leans to child being the center of life. Children are sinners and therefore they need a Savior. We have to teach children to hate their sin and to love God. We cannot tolerate sin in our children. We also cannot ignore it. Our children act and behave out of the overflow of their heart. Matthew 15:18, “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts –murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person.” So when we see anger and rage in the hearts of our children towards their siblings or over a toy or when we tell them “No,” they are revealing their hearts to us. And it is not a pretty sight. “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child (Proverbs 22:15).” We must not be blind to our children’s sin.

Children need to be taught the Gospel. Children need to learn that they are utterly hopeless without God that their hearts are black with sin. They need to know that they need a Savior and His name is Jesus. We try to do through our Gospel Project Curriculum for Sunday School. We try to teach how every Bible story relates back to Jesus Christ. For example, how the story Joseph suffered on his way to and in his time in Egypt to make a way to save his family from the intense famine is how Jesus Christ came and suffered to make a way to save us from our death. The most important thing we can do for our children is to teach them the Gospel. How are they going to reach a world for Jesus Christ if they do not know the gospel?

III. Children's Ministry Needs to Be Saturated with the Word

Foundational to every Children’s Ministry is going to be the Word of God. The Word of God accompanied by the Spirit of God brings life to our children. We want all of our children to know and believe in God’s Word. Children are sponges so we want to saturate them in the Word so when they are squeezed, the Word oozes out. Our children will be squeezed by this world. They are going to deal with sin and persecution so we want to train them in those situations to turn to the Lord and His Word. We want to provide them anchors for the little souls as they navigate through life.

IV. Children’s Spiritual Development is the Responsibility of Parents (particularly fathers)

The spiritual development of children is the responsibility of the parents and particularly, the responsibility of the father.

Deut 6:4-8 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

It is the clear teaching of Scripture that the responsibility of a child’s spiritual development is the father. The Bible addresses fathers because fathers are the head of the home. Fathers were often viewed as the priest of the home where they went before the throne of God on behalf of their family. So as a church, we need to be careful to continue to give tools to families and encourage fathers to lead their families in Christ.

This is not natural for most of us. Very few men in church today were taught how to disciple their families in the Word. The church must be a training ground for men to lead their families spiritual. Most men abdicate their responsibility as spiritual leader to their wives (and historically they have been more faithful to the task). We do not want to create any programs or activities that are going to remove the responsibilities from the parents. We also do not want to ignore the thoughts and ideas of parents in how to better serve their children. This is a community project.

V. Children Must be Taught Spirit Empowered Obedience

Children need to be taught obedience. Ephesians 6:1-3, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” There is a blessing in the obedience of children to their parents. As the Scripture above shows obedience comes with a promise. But we should also know that children will disobey their parents. The disobedience to their parents’ word is a representation of their disobedience to God. Children are lawbreakers, therefore they need something better than the law i.e. the gospel.

Romans 8:1-4, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c]he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Children cannot obey the law because of their sin. The law is only meant to expose their sin and their need for the Savior. So in Children’s Ministry, we must teach obedience that is connected to the gospel. We do not want just to teach good behaviors, but behaviors that are birthed out of the love for Jesus Christ.

VI. Children Must be Taught Deep Truths

Children need anchors for their souls. This world is full of false and deceptive philosophies. We need to teach children about our Big God and the Big Promises he makes in his Word. Children need to learn who God is and who am I in relation to God. Children need to learn the doctrine of justification, sanctification, ecclesiology, of the Holy Spirit, of human depravity, of salvation, of glorification etc. We should challenge our children with the great truths of our God. We must do so with wisdom and in an age-appropriate way, but we must teach our children the deep truths of God. In this world full of false gospels and half-truths, it is imperative to provide anchors for our children’s souls.

Throughout the Old Testament, the Israelites were consistently challenged to pass on the truths of God to the next generation. We can see this in Psalm 78:1-8

Psalms 78:1–8

{A Maskil of Asaph.} Listen, O my people, to my instruction; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, 3 which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. 4 We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. 5 For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should teach them to their children, 6 that the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, thatthey may arise and tell them to their children, 7 that they should put their confidence in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments, 8 and not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.

VII. Children Should See Complementarian Roles

Children need to see healthy marriages and healthy structures in the local church. Our society will indoctrinate our children with their views of the family and genders through the public school system, television, news, magazines, music, etc. The church has to teach our children what the Bible says about what it means to be a man and not a woman and what is means to be a woman and not a man. We cannot leave these things untaught. To that end, the church must show our children that God created men and women equal in person and yet different in roles. Men are to be the loving, sacrificial leader in the home and the church and women are to be submissive and supportive as they follow their husbands in the homes and pastors/deacons in the church. Therefore, there should be an active present of men involved to the ministry of children in the church. (Ephesians 5:21-33, Colossians 17-19, Genesis 1:26-28)

VIII. Children must know the Church is for the Gathered Believers (Experience Worship)

Children need experience a robust ecclesiology. They must not only be taught about the church, but to actually be a part of the church. It is crucial to instill in our children a deep love for the church and a deep love for the preached word of God. Children need to be present when the congregation gathers. Children need to be known by the oldest members of the congregation to the leadership of the church. Unregenerate children need consistent exposure to the church to hear the word being preached, to see the ordinances being administered and to see the love between the members of the church. (John 13:34-35)

The church is called to be distinct and separate from the world. Therefore, the church must be intentional in pushing back against the world. Friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4). The gathering is for Christians. We want to remove distractions and hindrances for people when they come to the church, but always keeping in mind that the gathering is for believers. We cannot aim to meet the desires of people who are lost and do not love God. We need to teach people who are lost to love God and submit to his Word.

IX. Children Need to Learn that Church and life is about God

Children are selfish. They want the world to be about themselves. The world is not about them, it is about God. One way to teach children that the world is about God is to teach children to serve. We should teach children the value of serving the church whether that is through baking cookies for shut-ins or passing out bulletins, God wants his people to serve. Our culture wants everything to be about us so we need to fight the “Me-ism” of our day (both in our own hearts and in the hearts of our children).

X. Children’s Programs cannot dominate the church

Children’s programs take a lot of physical manpower to pull off. Children programs can exhaust the volunteers within a church and can limit their ability to participate within the church. Church’s cannot be program driven. The church has to be Spirit-Driven. This is difficult in our day since we want a lot of programs, but we need to allow people time to live as the church. Programs do not always serve the church’s mission in fulfilling the great commission, but rather exhaust people so in their free time they are unable to invest in non-believers.

Children need to have fun because the Christian life is a life of joy. Children should have great experiences with their family so children should also have great experiences with their church family. We should have specific events for children, but need to be wise in how to have those events enhance church life and not detract from it.

Steven Brazzell

Charlotte, NC