The Scary Prospect of Working with Children
I feel as though I have been called by God to work with Children. I love working with kids! Every time I have started helping out in the Children’s Ministry at church on a part time basis, it seems that it has quickly grown into a weekly schedule (or even more often). When we switched churches several years ago, I ignored that call for a couple of years, and I found myself feeling more and more empty and distant from God. Last fall, through a series of circumstances, I ended up volunteering once again in Children’s Ministry working with kids from age 3 (pre-school) through about 7 (1st grade).
I take that work very seriously. I believe working with children is one of God’s greatest, and perhaps most neglected, mission fields, and I take my role very seriously both as a Children’s Ministry volunteer and as the father of four children. The seriousness of the situation was reaffirmed for me recently when I read the results of a poll conducted by Barna Research. That study looked at the number of people in our nation with a “Biblical Worldview.” A Biblical worldview was defined based on responses to 6 basic questions:
- Do you believe in moral absolutes?
- Is the Bible totally accurate in all the principals it teaches?
- Do you consider Satan to be a real person or force, merely symbolic, or non-existent?
- Can a person earn their way to heaven by being a good person or trying to do good works?
- Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life on earth?
- Do you believe that God is all-knowing, all-powerful, the creator of the world, and still rules the universe today?
Many aspects of the results to the survey were scary, but the one that struck me the most was that “less than one-half of one percent of adults in the Mosaic generation – i.e., those aged 18 to 23 – have a biblical worldview, compared to about one out of every nine older adults.”
Personally, I did not become a Christian until I was 30, so I do not have any experience with Children’s Ministry from the child’s point of view, but the statistics clearly indicate that the church is failing our kids. That is something I take very seriously!
I do not develop the curriculum for the classes I help out in, nor do I do the large group teaching (we have very capable people who do both), but I am privileged to work with the kids in small groups – to talk to them, invest in them and teach them. In that role, I try to always remember the words of James, the brother of Jesus:
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (James 3:1)
As teachers, even as teachers of preschool and elementary age kids (perhaps especially as teachers of kids that age), we are called to a high standard by God. The Bible is clear that we will be judged more strictly. Not only is this true in Children’s Ministry, but also in the role of father. As my children’s earthly father, I have been assigned the task by God of imparting his word to them. I think it is fair to assume that this verse also applies to us as fathers when it comes to teaching the Word of God to our children.
We should never fool ourselves, or let the enemy convince us, that our work with kids is anything less than critical. The purpose of Children’s Ministry is not to babysit the kids for an hour or an hour-and-a-half so their parents can go learn about Jesus. The purpose of Children’s Ministry is to teach these kids the Word of God and model the Love of God. The purpose is to teach these kids, at a level they can understand, that they are sinners in need of grace. The purpose of Children’s Ministry is to impart in them their need for the Cross of Christ. The Bible is clear that this is important to God as well. In the words of our Lord Jesus Christ:
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:5-6)
Jesus leaves little doubt about the importance of children in the kingdom of God. Given God’s love for kids, those of us who work with them would do well to remember the truth of God reflected in the book of Hebrews:
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)
For those of us that God blesses with Children or blesses with the gift of working with children, we are called to approach that work with the Godly fear that the task warrants!