At our church I am the elder over children’s ministry. Since taking on this role just nine months ago, I have grown significantly in my appreciation and respect for the teachers and workers who make this ministry what it is. Sadly, I think that too many people view children’s ministry as just babysitting, except with more lemonade, animal crackers, and Bible coloring sheets. It is so much more than that. While I believe this ministry is a ministry to the parents (allowing them the freedom to be fed spiritually on a Sunday morning), first and foremost, we all must see it as a ministry to the children. Children’s church and Sunday school should not be seen by anyone in the church as a wait-out-the-clock scenario where the workers simply keep the kids busy until their parents come to pick them up. The objective is not ultimately to prevent anarchy or insurrection in the 3-4 year-old class for an hour. There are several reasons why the workers in children’s ministry and the rest of the church should value this avenue of service, but I just want to give you one today.
Here it is: children’s ministry is an important aspect of any church’s evangelistic efforts. Think about it, most of the children in children’s ministry will, most likely, be unbelievers (especially the younger ones). I think we forget this because so many of the children have been taught proper church etiquette and memorized the books of the Bible. We need to remember that just because a child comes from a Christian home does not mean that he/she doesn’t need to hear the Gospel in Sunday school. This is why it is so crucial for the teachers and workers to emphasize the Gospel message through the Bible stories that they teach. As I look back upon my years in children’s ministry growing up in church, I remember a lot of Old Testament stories that taught me to be courageous, loving, and trustworthy. Sadly, the Gospel was only taught when we got to the New Testament. This is a problem because most of the time in children’s ministry, the Old Testament is used more than the New because kids tend to focus more on stories, and there are less of those in the New Testament. Seeing children’s ministry as an evangelistic ministry should motivate us to draw out the elements of the Gospel message that are in the New Testament and the Old. For the rest of the church, seeing children’s ministry in this way should lead us to appreciate and pray for it more fervently.