Leadership Empowerment School of Ministry
Empowering Those who Empower Others with a Knowledge of God and His Ways
Assignment: During this course you will form groups of 2-4 people, and present a children's message to the class. This can be a message for salvation, or a teaching for children who are already saved. This will be your grade for the week. You should begin working towards this on Monday, so that you will be ready to present on Thursday or Friday. The guidelines for the assignment are:
· Choose an age group for whom you will prepare the lesson
· Choose a Bible story / lesson
· Determine the main point you want to teach
· Present the lesson in such a way that it would be received well by the age group you chose
· Every group member is to participate
· The teacher will tell you how long the lesson must be
· Present the lesson to the class as though they were the children to whom you minister
The Need for Children's Ministry
Let the children come to me. Do not stop them! For the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. – Mat 19:14
- List the ministries in which most churches are involved
- Compared to those different ministries, how important do you believe is ministry to children?
- Does children's ministry get the attention it should in church?
- If it does not, what are some reasons why not?
- Can anything be done to improve this situation?
1. The Bible and children
Read the following scriptures. What do they tell you about God's view of children? About our responsibility to children?
A. Deut 11:18-21
B. Psalm 127:3-5
C. Proverbs 22:6
D. Ephesians 6:1-4
2. Children are open to the Gospel
Compared to adults, it is easier for children to believe and accept the Gospel. They do not find it difficult to have faith, or to submit to God. A person is much more likely to get saved as a child than as an adult.
3. Jesus welcomed the children – Matt 19:13-15
The disciples, like many of us, did not believe that the children were important enough to spend time on. They did not think Jesus would want to be bothered by them. They were wrong. Jesus welcomed the children, and took time to minister to them by blessing them. How can we follow His example and bless the children in our churches and villages?
4. Who is responsible for the children?
A. The people most responsible for children are the parents.
1. Eli and David faced consequences for not disciplining their own children: 1 Sam 3:11-14; 1 Kings 1:5-6
2. In the book of Proverbs we see a father instructing his child: Prov 1:8-9, 2:1, 3:1, 4:1-6, 5:1, 6:20, and others
3. Paul tells Fathers to take care in how they raise their children – Eph 6:4; Col 3:21
4. We should note that the emphasis in these passages is especially on fathers. In many cases most or all of the work of raising children is done by mothers. However, we can see that fathers will be held accountable.
B. The church needs to help to train children also
1. Many children do not have parents who teach them to follow the Lord. The local church needs to stand in and reach these children with God's love.
2. Even when the parents are godly, they need help. The church should serve these parents by providing good teaching and examples for the children. This will reinforce what the child learns at home.
Ministering to Children
- How does your church minister to children?
- Are you content with your church's children's ministry?
- How could it be improved?
1. Children can be born again
Many people assume that children cannot understand enough of the Gospel to be truly saved, or that they are not able to make such a commitment. However, this is not true. Many people who were saved at the age of 4-10 continue to follow the Lord for their entire lives without ever backsliding.
B. Presenting the Gospel to a child
1. Give the Gospel clearly and simply.
2. Depend on the Holy Spirit to make it plain. Yes, the Holy Spirit can work in children!
3. Do not force them to make a decision to get saved. Allow them to decide for themselves.
4. As soon as they are ready, lead them in a prayer to confess Christ
5. Be sure the child understands. If possible, ask questions. Also, follow up on the child. We know this is important for adults. It is also important for children!
C. Truths to be made clear in presenting the Gospel to children
1. God is holy and just, but also kind and loving
2. We are sinners (Isaiah 53:6a; Rom 3:23)
3. Sin has to be punished
4. Jesus took the punishment for us (Isaiah 53:6b)
5. We must make a choice to accept Him as our Lord and Savior. We can say 'yes' to Him, or we can say 'no' to Him. God allows each of us to decide. (Rev 3:20)
6. When we accept Him (agree to give Him our lives), He gives us a wonderful gift – eternal life. He causes us to be born again. (Jn 3:16)
7. We can know that we are born again and that our sins are forgiven because of God's Word – John 1:12; 1 John 1:9, 5:12
8. God wants us to grow to become more like Him – loving, kind, helpful, obedient,…
9. We grow by reading the Bible, going to Church, worshipping God, praying, telling others about Him, etc.
2. How to minister to children
A. Know that they are different from adults, and you have to minister to them differently
B. Use different activities to teach – for example:
2. Acting things out (dramas)
3. Having them act out a story
4. Telling stories
6. Teaching / preaching
C. When preaching or teaching, remember they are children
1. Use language that they understand (not difficult words)
2. Use examples, stories, and testimonies that they can relate to – what is helpful for an adult is often not at all for a child.
3. Learn to think like a child
4. Do not expect them to pay attention to you for long
5. Be enthusiastic and dramatic – BE INTERESTING!
D. Children cannot pay attention as long as adults can. Therefore, do not do the same activity for more than 15 minutes or so. This is why it is good to plan a number of different activities for a children's service.
Take the time to prepare to teach children, just as you would to teach adults. Plan your lesson. Determine the scriptures to be used, the main point of the lesson, the stories and examples you will use, etc.
F. Be child-like
Do not be concerned about dignity or speaking especially well. Children do not care about these things. Be willing to make yourself feel foolish in order to communicate to them. Get on their level in some ways. See 1 Cor 9:22-23
3. Show them God's love
A. Earn the right to train them through relationships
1. If you want to truly make an impact on the life of a child for good, you must do more than preach, teach, or lead children's services. If you take the time to show that you care for a child, he will be much more likely to listen to what you have to say. It is very true that children do not care what you know until they know that you care.
2. Find out about the children in the ministry, and show that you are someone who cares enough to listen to them.
3. Remember their names, and use them. It makes a child feel more special to be called by name, than to just be called "boy."
4. Do not "speak down" to them. Do not treat them as though nothing in their world is important. The things that trouble them may seem very small to you, but they are not to them. Learn to take them seriously.
5. Children need to experience God's love even more than they need to be taught the truth. This love must come to them through the people of God.
B. Be an example of godliness
Children will certainly learn more from how you live than from how you teach.
- Have you ever ministered to children?
- What have you learned so far in this course that will help you the next time? What is something specifically you will do differently?
- What are some other things you have learned about ministering to children through your own experience that we have not mentioned?
Children's Ministry by Age
Children grow and change very quickly. Because of this, a child of 10 years is very different from a child of 6 or 7 years. They have different abilities, different needs, different interests, etc. Many times in children's ministry, we group all the children together, assuming that the same type of ministry is good for all of them. However, this is not true. It is important to know the differences between children of different ages, so that we can minister to each one in the best way.
You should be sensitive to each child and to the Holy Spirit to know when to lead them to salvation and being filled with the Spirit. Some children may be ready for such a step as early as age 4, while others may need to wait until they have 9 or 10 years.
In this section we will look at some general characteristics of different age groups, and will give some ideas of what types of things children of those ages can learn.
2. Age 0-4 Years
The greatest needs of children of this age are love and security. It is important to show them these by meeting their physical needs, touching them in loving ways, speaking to them with a loving voice, and protecting them from harm.
B. Spiritual training – what they can learn
1. God is real
2. God loves you
3. God wants to take care of you
4. God created everything – including you
5. God's Son, Jesus, died for your sins so you can be with God
6. Prayer is talking to God
7. You need to pray often
8. The Bible tells us about God. It is good to learn about God.
9. God wants you to be good, kind, and loving, just like He is.
10. Going to church can help you to know God more
11. You need to obey your parents
3. Age 5-6 Years
1. They have strong feelings, and do not always know how to control them well. They are learning self-control.
2. They like to have fun, and would rather play than pray or listen to a sermon.
3. They like to be active.
4. They may have questions about God and spiritual things
5. They are learning to do things on their own, and like to be independent.
B. Some good things to teach
1. God is your loving Father
2. God is everywhere, knows everything, and can do anything
3. Jesus is God
4. God sent His Son Jesus to die for you
5. God has prepared a place for you in heaven
6. You can know God by getting saved
7. You can talk to God at any time
8. You can ask God for wisdom and to meet your needs
9. God has a plan for you
10. When you do wrong, you should ask God to forgive you – and you should know that He will forgive you every time
11. God wants you to help others and be nice to them
12. God wants you to obey Him in everything
4. Age 7-9 Years
1. They want to please adults in their life – parents, teacher, etc.
2. Beginning to think for themselves. Like to know "why" and "how." They do not necessarily believe everything they are told
3. Relationship is very important for them – with adults as well as with friends of the same age
B. Some good things to teach
1. There is only one God, and He is a Trinity
2. Jesus is God and man
3. The Bible is true
4. God wants you to learn and study the Bible
5. The world is full of sin. Many people do not obey God. The devil is God's enemy.
6. Jesus is the only way to God
7. Prayer helps you in many ways
8. Keep on praying for things and be persistent
9. You can trust God
10. Learn to seek God
11. God wants you to keep on growing and becoming more like Jesus
12. God wants you to serve Him and tell others about Him
5. Age 10-12 Years
1. Friends their own age are becoming more important. These peers now have a very big influence on the child. They are becoming more independent from adults.
2. Very energetic
3. If they have not already gotten saved by this point, they are often very ready to do so during this stage. They can understand the message of salvation and make a commitment to give their lives to Christ.
B. Some good things to teach
1. Learn to study the Bible on your own
2. God wants you to tell others about what He has done
3. You should continue to learn to pray more and more. It should be a normal part of your life
4. You can worship God on your own, and know His presence
5. God wants you to make good choices to grow in Him
6. God's grace means you do not have to do everything on your own. He wants to help you.
7. God wants you to discover and follow His will for your life
8. God wants you to give all of your life to Him
9. God wants you to learn to love Him more.
10. God wants to help you to love other people more
11. You need to learn how to resist the devil and temptation
Children's Ministry in the Church
While every children's ministry may have somewhat different goals, there are some which should be shared by all:
A. To lead children to Jesus (evangelism)
B. To instruct them in living a true Christian life (discipleship)
2. The Family
A. The family provides the primary training
1. The greatest influence on children is from the home
2. Parents are the most important people in a child's life
3. The child's view of God is influenced by his view of his parents
B. The church should help families minister to children
1. Free parents to spend quality time with their children. Do not insist that they spend all their spare time at church. Teach them the importance of spending time with their children:
a. Be an example of God who is always there for us
b. Teaching your children is your responsibility, and it takes time to do it well
c. Your relationship with your child influences the relationship he has with God
d. Your relationship with your child is important. Relationships grow by spending time together.
2. Be an example with your own family of training your children
3. Provide biblical teaching on how to parent well
4. Offer encouragement to parents in their struggle to raise godly children. Appreciate them.
5. Trust the Holy Spirit to lead them as you share biblical principles with them.
3. Organizing a Children's Ministry
A. Questions to ask
1. When will the children meet?
2. How long will the children's service be?
3. Where will the services be?
4. Who is qualified and able to teach?
5. What kind of training must teachers have?
6. How many children will be involved? What are their ages?
7. Is it possible to divide the children into different groups by age? Do you have enough space and teachers to do this? If so, how will you divide them (which ages will be together)?
B. What to include in children's services
1. Praise and worship
a. teach in a way the children of that age can understand well
b. teach things that they are ready to learn (see the previous section)
a. encourage children to participate
b. encourage children to share prayer requests and praise reports
c. teach about prayer
4. Bible memory
a. choose verses that enforce the lesson
b. help the children to understand the meaning of the verse
c. explain difficult words – change to more simple words if possible
d. have the children repeat the verse many times – this is the primary way they will learn it
e. sometimes make a game to revise the verse
f. set the verse to music and sing it
5. Fun activities
Add fun things to the children's service, such as games, special singing, dramas, etc. What ideas can you think of?
6. Different activities
Remember, do not do the same thing for a long period of time. Children are not able to keep their attention on one thing for long. Continue to change activities in order to help them to stay interested.
If at all possible, do not force one person to do all the work of ministering to the children. Children's ministry is not easy, and a person who is over-worked will soon burn out. Following are some roles that would be helpful in filling in order to develop a strong children's ministry:
a. This person could be the pastor, but another minister in the church would probably be better. His job includes:
1) recruiting / choosing teachers
2) organizing and administrating the program
3) training teachers
4) teaching when necessary
5) sets program for what needs to be taught, etc.
b. The leader should be:
1) a mature believer
2) gifted in administration and in teaching
3) able to teach teachers
4) able to solve problems
5) one who loves children and has a burden for them
a. Teachers are the key to the whole ministry. They are the ones actually doing the work of training children.
b. It is best for one teacher not to have to teach every week, especially if that means missing the main service. The more teachers you have, the more fresh and enthusiastic they will be, because they will get breaks.
c. Do not just allow anyone to teach who is willing. Have a high standard. Pray for the Lord to send such people (see Mat 9:37-38). The following are qualities to look for:
1) a mature believer
2) gifted in teaching
3) able to work with children – children like him
4) willing to take the time to prepare and to teach
6) committed to the church
7) creative in finding new ways to teach and reach children
8) a youthful attitude – able to have fun and enjoy children
9) loves children
3. Assistant teacher
a. If there are many children in one class, the teacher should have an assistant. The assistant's job is to:
1) help to keep order and discipline
2) be a substitute when the teacher cannot be there
3) learn about children's ministry and possibly develop into a full teacher
4) teach parts of the lesson
5) give individual ministry and attention to children
b. Choose someone who
1) is a growing believer – does not need to be as mature as the teacher or leader, but must be wanting to grow
2) is willing to learn about ministering to children -- teachable
3) loves children
The church should provide regular training to children's workers. The leader, teachers, and assistants should all be involved. These training days could include:
A. Sharing different creative methods of teaching
B. Discussing problems and seeking solutions
C. Prayer for each other
D. Prayer for the children
F. Let teachers mention needs, and ask questions.
5.The pastor shows how important children's ministry is
A. If the pastor is not committed to this ministry, it is difficult to expect that others will be. However, if he is committed, others will likely follow his example.
B. If the church is going to reach children, the pastor must take a personal interest in this ministry.
How can a pastor demonstrate that children's ministry is very important?
Church on the Move is one of the largest churchs in its city, with several thousand members. At one time they had a difficult time finding people willing to work with the children. One Sunday morning the pastor announced that there were not enough teachers for the children, and that he was going to go to minister to them. He made it clear that he would continue to teach the children each week until there were enough teachers without him. An assistant pastor would preach and lead the main service. He followed through, beginning that very day. It was not long before enough people volunteered to teach, and the pastor returned to his usual ministry. Now in that church they often have to tell volunteers that they cannot use them, because they have more children's workers than they need.
Why do so many people want to minister to children in that church? One reason is that the pastor showed that he is serious about this ministry. When people saw how important it was to him, they began to get involved.
Gather in small groups and pray for the children of your church and community, and for God to provide workers to minister to them
Action Steps: Compare your church's children's ministry with what we have studied in this course. What are some specific things which can be done to improve this ministry? Make a commitment to doing something this month.