By Julie Redmond Donavan
North Shelby Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.
Teaching children in church is important because of two main reasons:
- It is biblical.
- Children are the church.
Still, working with children can be exhausting, and sometimes you can feel unappreciated. There may be times when you are not quite sure why you are teaching children but what you are doing is glorifying God in so many ways.
First, teaching children is biblical. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 19:14).
‘Least of these’
If you work in children’s ministry, then you know this verse well. You may even have it on a poster or drawn on a wall in your children’s area.
The words show Jesus wanted the (so called) “least of these” to come to Him. If you think children are sometimes dirty and sticky today, they were even dirtier and stickier during Jesus’ time. Some had to fend for themselves or were taken care of by older siblings because the parents did not have time to worry about their cleanliness. Both parents either worked in the field or took care of household chores, often with children in tow.
Caring for children looked much different in the first century than the 21st century. Home life was not necessarily built around the kids. Children were sometimes shunned because they were dirty.
Jesus, by His words and actions, changed our attitude toward children. What the world considers weak, insignificant and dirty, Jesus sees as strong, innocent and beautiful.
Second, children are the church. A common phrase I hear is, “Children are the future of our church.” Yes, while they might be future Sunday School teachers, preachers or committee leaders, children also are the church right now if they are repentant believers in Jesus Christ.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”
As you teach your class, no matter how young these believers (or soon-to-be believers) may be, you are teaching God’s children.
As you prepare for the work in your children’s ministry, help all of those involved know teaching children is not a demotion. Many, if not most, of Christ’s followers today began to have a spiritual foundation in place by the time they were 12.
From age 4 to 12 is when children’s brains are like sponges, taking everything in and rinsing out what they don’t understand and what is not important to them. Teaching children, youth and adults are all important. Every age should be taught the meat of Scripture, while also understanding and making application to the age-range. I believe teaching children is answering the call for one of the most important assignments in His Kingdom.
Next week’s question:
How do I deal with disciplinary issues in children’s ministry?
Suggested resources for your children’s ministry
“Children’s Ministry on Purpose” by Steve Adams
“Gospel Centered Kids Ministry” by Brian Dembowczyk
About the author – My name is Julie Redmond Donavan and I am the children’s and preschool minister at North Shelby Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. I have been a children’s minister for 12 years, following the call God set on my life when I was 9 years old. God prepared me as I worked at church camps and taught preschoolers. This calling continued while I earned a bachelor’s degree from Jacksonville State University and a master of divinity degree from Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham. My husband, Connor Donavan, and I have been married for five years and have a 2-year-old boy, Robert, and two-month-old baby girl, Abigail.