These are all important things. But are any of them “essential?”
While there might be a list of important things to include kids ministry, I want to elevate the following things to “essential” status. In other words, if you need to ensure that certain things are a part of your kids ministry, what are the things that you cannot afford to sacrifice? These have nothing to do with what happens as much as why it happens. There could be a book written on each one of these, but I think you’ll get the idea from these summary statements. This is a longer blog than normal, so please stick with it.
1) Heart transforming, not just behavior forming.
This one is critical, based on our theology. While some may hold that people (and children) are pure from the moment they are born, scripture seems to indicate something different. We are born with the sinful nature that has been inherited from previous generations. So, in the midst of your children’s ministry, are you trying to teach great behaviors/virtues — although they might model the character and nature of God are still being applied to a corrupt soul? Should we “behave” like Jesus and others in the Bible that occasionally modeled good behavior? Perhaps.
If we start with the idea that we are able to make good choices, based on what we’ve observed others doing, we will miss it all. God’s spirit within us should transform our hearts. The better we get to know Jesus and allow him to transform us from the within, the greater the likelihood that we can be faithful to Him and how he’s called us to live. I want to scare you a little bit. If you think that teaching virtues apart from Christ is a good approach, watch this video. (Warning: This content is spiritually disturbing.)
2) Kingdom expanding, not merely church-expanding.
If you simply want more people in your church, you can read virtually any marketing book and make that happen. Bells and whistles will attract the masses. (I understand that they attract zombies as well.) However, if you want to transform lives, you need a strategy of discipleship. You need to invest in the long-term growth of each person that comes in your doors. It’s possible that a party atmosphere in a ministry might prohibit people from experiencing an eternal party in heaven because we failed to lead them to Jesus.
3) Culture-shaking, not culture-shaken.
There is a difference between passivity and living on purpose with grace. I think we often train our kids to avoid conflict instead of defending the gospel, which we are called to do. I fully understand that we need to “win over” the lost to Christ, but if we lead our kids to be passive in their faith, the next generation will be further away from God than any generation in history. We need to teach them to boldly lead the way in shaking the culture around them with the good news of Jesus Christ. Who wants to be a part of something small?
The Bible is the source of the essentials of our faith. Don’t miss these essentials for your kids!