I’ve heard children’s ministry sometimes referred to as “the red-headed step-child” of the church. Not to mention, there is often a lack of feedback from the recipients. After all, they are only 5 years old, but still… We wonder, are we actually helping these kids? Are they getting it? Is our new curriculum successful? Is this just another activity to check off an already long list? More importantly, does anybody care what we are doing in the kids’ department? After all, it doesn’t have the glitz and glam of the worship team or the “cool factor” of the youth team. Sunday after Sunday we receive crying, frantic children or deal with the same behavioral issues. We give them worksheets or discuss in small groups the lesson of the day, but wonder if life change is actually happening.
If we aren’t careful, before we know it, we may find ourselves in a whirlwind of self-pity and not be able to see out of the dust. Then God in His goodness, lets the dust settle, and soothes our frustration and exhaustion. You sense Him begin to speak, and perhaps He poses a simple question: “Why are you here? For whose applause are you reaching?” You stop for a moment and immediately recognize the wounded pride and green-eyed monster of jealousy. Maybe you feel jealous of the “cool” ministries, or the more esteemed ways to serve. You ask Jesus to reorient you again, to remind you why you do what you do; and then you think back to the child who just accepted Jesus last week. Your mind wanders to the huge strides your little ADD kid has made. Though he still hops around like popcorn in hot oil, you have begun to find ways to help him learn in spite of his struggle to focus. Finally, you are reminded of the child whose parents are going through a horrendous divorce and Sunday school is her only safe place.
Jesus said in Matthew 19:14, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Jesus clearly values children, which is why children’s ministry is so important. This is not to say it is more important than any other ministry, but equally so. The body of Christ contains many members and neglecting any one of them will render the body ineffective and limp. Addressing the needs of children, the smallest members, is contributing to the legacy of faith by equipping the next generation to continue running after Christ and adopting His message. Jesus was the ultimate servant and thereby the ultimate leader. In the book of Philippians, verses 5 and 7, the believers are encouraged to “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus… [who] humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” When we submit and humble ourselves to serve the least of these, the precious little ones in His sight, we imitate Christ’s humility and know that our treasure is laid up in heaven. Earthly accolades will fade, but the pleasure in Jesus’s eyes when we lead a little one to Him, is favor enough.