This post is to honor all of our incredible children’s leaders. To spotlight their endless hours of work, creativity, dedication, and love for our children. Today, they take center stage!
What if…we opened up the doors of our Children’s Center and invited the adults to worship along with us? What would we see? What would we hear?
We would see a church worshipping…not just through music… but through music, motion, praise, childlike joy, faith, and sometimes…when the Lord moves, we might see children with their hands raised high to the Lord, tapping their feet, dancing or even forming a conga line. Because as children they were built to move and wiggle and worship without boundaries…no matter who is watching. They learn best through movement, repetition, and stimulation.
We would see a church offering…but it might look a little different than most. We may not even see an offering plate…but an “offering monster”…because as children, they learn by seeing, hearing, reading and kinesthetic (movement). And, what better way than to wiggle and jiggle and laugh while they’re taking their offering before the Lord. What fun…as their “hear”…and “see” their offering being swooped up out of their hands…to be used by God…for His glory.
We would hear prayers…but they might sound a little unusual to some people. The prayers would be for things that are important in the life of a child. Things such as a lost dog or a sick cat…or even a pet that has died. We would hear prayers of thanksgiving…for things such as a new pair of shoes, a bag of crackers from snack time, or a good grade at school. There would be prayers for healing… A skinned knee, a loose tooth, or a boo-boo that required a band-aid. There would also be serious prayers…because as children…they have their own set of problems and burdens.
We would see visitors…if you were able to find them amongst the crowd of children. Children who have gathered around them to make them feel welcome. The children may even be a little too much for some first time visitor…because as children, they have never met a stranger at church…just another new friend.
We would see a church full of eager listeners…but we would also see little hands lifted and waving in the air…exited to ask and answer questions. Because as children, we learn by observing, listening, exploring, experimenting and by asking QUESTIONS.
We would hear a well-planned lesson (sermon)…but the lesson would rarely go as planned. There would be many twists and turns, lots of interruptions and detours and even a wild goose chase or two…because when God speaks to a child’s heart…questions will soon follow. Not just a few questions…LOTS of questions. And believe it or not THAT is a good thing! Because when God stirs a child’s heart, and an amazing teacher responds…God moves in a mighty way!
We would see creative lessons come to life...but they would be laced with object lessons, props, multi-media, and an occasional silly costume. Because as children, their minds are always running full speed. They need a lot of stimulation to keep them focused and to help them retain what they have heard. Some of them are visual learners…they can’t just “hear” they must “see” God’s Word in action.
We would hear a church being encouraged to “invite” their friends…but we would also hear some incentives being given to encourage the church to follow through. Because as children…they learn by doing. Children may be encouraged to bring a friend…but they need to be motivated. Give them a motivation that includes the words…“Bring a Twin Friend,” “competition”, “prizes”, or “snacks”…and they’re all in! What are the results? God’s house…filled with little children…each one hearing about Jesus. And that is what it is all about!
We would hear about fellowships and special events…but they may sound rather odd to an adult. Events such as a “Noise Night,” “Nerf Wars” and “Paint Wars” would be at the top of the list. Why? Because as children, this is how they make friends….good friends…life long friends. Fellowships are a vital part of any church…but they are extremely vital to children. The friends that a child makes “NOW” will be some of the same friends that they will have as teenagers. They will be the same friends that influence many of the decisions that a child makes. They will be the same friends that help them through some of the toughest and darkest times in their lives. These friends will be the same friends that stick by their side through the good…and the bad. Adults make and cultivate friendships through fellowships…why would we expect to see anything different from a child?
We would hear about the “needs” in our community…but we would also hear a lesson on giving. Perhaps one on Dorcus who made coats for those in need. But the lesson wouldn’t end there…it would be followed up with a “Mr. Rogers Sweater and Coat Drive” for children in the community. Because as children, they have to be motivated and engaged in learning. They have to be hands-on. They have to be taught to look for the needs around them...and to respond to those needs. They can’t just hear…we must do.
We would see many people listening contently...But we would also see a few wiggling and moving, one who just can’t seem to stay in their seat, one anxious youngster who is raising his hand just so he can give a silly answer, and a couple who need to go to the restroom. And all of this is ok…because as children, this is how they learn…this is how they express ourselves…this is who they are! They are wiggly, giggly, touchy, talkative little creatures…and THIS is how they learn.
We would hear scripture being read…but we would also see children reciting scripture together. Bible scriptures that they have learned through repetition, interactive games, and play. Because as children…they learn by doing things over and over and over again, by playing memory games and through multi-media.
We would hear an invitation being given…but we would also see an amazing children’s leader with trusty whiteboard and marker in hand…explaining the how, the why and the who! Explaining that this decision is THE most important decision they will ever make. And oh what question we would hear! Because as children…they have fears, doubts and questions too!
We would hear a closing prayer…and an Amen…and then we would see children leaving the worship center…the same way that they came in…bouncing, giggling, skipping and laughing. With good-bye hugs for their teachers…and special good-bye’s to their friends.
And then…if we stayed just a little bit longer…we will see a special leader…wave goodbye, smile and then sigh. As they begin to pack up their things, straighten the room and pray…that somewhere along the way…they have taught the children something that they will remember. Because as children’s leaders…this is what they do.
And as they walk out of the church. God looks down…straightens their crown, gives them hope…and courage…and strength to battle another day. And then He whisper’s “Well done…good and faithful servant” Because…this is what God does.
Many people do not understand children’s ministry…even in our churches. But take heart…the disciples did not understand it either…until Jesus, Himself showed them.
Matthew 19:13-15 “Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Proverbs 22:6 does not say that a child will not stray…it tells us that when they are old…they will not depart from it.
Teach your children, provide them with good teachers to help guide and instruct them and expose them to as many church “friend gatherings” as you can. They may stray from time to time but they will be grounded in the Word and supported by loving parents, “good” friends and amazing teachers to help them find their way.