Working for the Long Game in Kidmin

Last week on my blog I focused on celebrating the short term wins in kids ministry. It’s important to stay encouraged when we aren’t necessarily guaranteed to see the long term effects of our influence on the children we teach every week. They grow up and move on to student ministry and hopefully at some point become contributing members of the body of Christ. We work diligently to raise this next generation hoping our ministries are successful. 

So, what is the ultimate success of a faithful children’s ministry?  How can we as church leaders influence the next generation in a lasting way? Matt Markins of Awana says, We need key senior leaders in the local church to realize child discipleship is one of the most strategic and future-forward and fruitful investments of the local church.” What we must understand is that a successful children’s ministry sets the stage for a successful church in the future.  We are the foundation – the building blocks – of the local church.

Fifty years from now, who will be our pastors, our deacons, the lay leaders and Sunday School teachers of this church and indeed the church as a whole across the globe?  They are currently at our ankles playing with toy trucks and dolls, they are in our arms rocking back and forth in rocking chairs, they are in the precious wombs of mothers.  We know that children have formed a worldview by the age of middle school and many who come to profess Christ do so by the age of 15.  By sharing the Gospel with our youngest ones we are setting them on a course of spiritual maturity that they will need to navigate the choppy waters of this world. The future of our church depends on what happens in the classrooms of our children’s ministries. 

I have been in children’s ministry for 22 years and after years of work I’ve received the reward of viewing kids who’ve gone through my ministry that are now adult disciple makers making their own impact on the next generation. We must recognize the fruit they bear and celebrate when that fruit is evident.

Many times we get to see the beginning works of this fruit through children’s initial decisions to follow Christ and in their following through with baptism. I rejoice when a child I’ve helped to teach and disciple is baptized.  Many times it happens while they are still within my ministry but other times it is when they are older. Either way I rejoice because I was able to be a part of changing a life for Christ in some way. 

Don’t take it for granted when we see the next generation bearing good fruit. This may look like their ability to share their testimony or preach the gospel. They may share their faith while on mission trips or while doing local community outreach. They may exhibit real heart change and model the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. However they show faith in Christ and at whatever age, we should be grateful that God used us to bring them closer to Jesus. 

Ultimately, the goal for our kids is that they grow up to be disciples who make disciples.  What we do in our classrooms now will influence what our kids understand about becoming one. Keeping the long game in kidmin at the forefront of our minds helps us to make decisions that lead to lasting heart change – not entertainment, not child care, but age appropriate discipleship.

What are you doing to make disciples out of the next generation? We are pressing on toward a noble goal. Don’t forget that what is at stake every weekend is eternity for some child. And that child will hopefully one day grow up to influence the eternal destination of others. 

So don’t stop making disciples out of our children.  This is kingdom work, after all.

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