I’ve done about 3 dozen blogs this year, but surprisingly, I haven’t written much about my “job” my role at my church as a pastor. I have few different things I oversee at my church but one of my biggest roles is overseeing the ministry and care of families and children. We (in my humble but biased opinion) have a fantastic kid’s ministry lead by some of the greatest men and women I’ve come to meet in my life; we’re learning and growing every year, and God has used the ministry for many many great things to His glory.
As I’ve served in this role for about 5 years or so, I’ve come to see and experience a lot when it comes to the topic of “children’s’ church” (I promise I’ve become one of the world’s leading experts on fruit snacks because of the job). And, of the things I’ve observed in my toddler-like time in the role, one thought stands at the front of my mind about the idea of the ministry as a universal whole: If not properly shepherd, a kid’s ministry could so easily veer away from God’s Biblical heart for families.
What do I mean? Well, 1st off, we don’t really see evidence of a “kid”s ministry” when it came to the old and new testament church. Kids were either addressed directly when an apostle would speak to a church body (Col. 3:20, Eph 4:12), they were listed as people who were in attendance of the entirety of the church (Ezra 10:1, Joshua 8:34-35, Matthew 18:10), They were being welcomed personally by Jesus as their parents brought them up to Him (Mark 10:13), or they were being used by God to bless the church (John 6:9). There seems to be a call in scripture for the picture of the church image to include intergenerational worship. As to, kids and teens go off and do their own thing while the adults are over doing the “real church.” A true, Biblically shaped church, includes kids and teens…and not just every so often when the kids show up to sing a song on the main stage.
So, am I saying children’s ministry is unbiblical? No. I believe God’s desire for His church is to make little disciples in a healthy way (Titus 2, Deut 6, Psalm 78). and these ministries can truly accomplish this. But, with all of this in mind, I do believe a local church can veer off the Biblical path when a kid’s (or even youth) ministry is desired simply for convenience or practical reasons. It’s easy for a church to say they desire to truly disciple families, but sometimes their biggest motivator for Sunday School may be to simply create more seats for the adults, so the noisy kids have a place to go so they won’t interrupt the service, so the parents aren’t inconvenienced by having their children with them. In essence, what they truly desire is a holy daycare center. But Anthony, you may be saying, I’d push back and remind you that God is a God of decency and order! Having the kids separate creates more order! To that, I would say 1. God was still a God of order in the set up of the church in both the new and old testament 2. You may be also ignoring the fact that God is also a God who calls families, and the church family, to make disciples with legacies in mind.
And these Christ-Centered legacies will be made when our families are equipped and trained, not just simply worry about inconveniences. So we have ministries for kids, but it’s not the kid’s ministry…it’s the church’s ministry! The adults care about the kid’s in the church because they care about making disciples in their homes and over generations. The kids celebrate when the adults celebrate because they are a part of the church too! The kids are trained up to know they are a part of the local church not just in “church attendance limbo” until they finally graduate and turn 18 (spoiler alert, if that’s your method they prob won’t still around past high school anyways). I’m not saying stuff for just kids is bad or stuff for just the adults is bad. I’m not saying the kids need to be physically with the adults at all times. I am saying that our kids need to be a part of the church they attend with their families. A church where families are being discipled- biblical. A church with nothing more than good “childcare” – unbiblical.
And that’s my thought on the subject.