Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “If you want big-souled, large-hearted men or women, look for them among those who are much engaged among the young, bearing with their follies, and sympathizing with their weaknesses for Jesus’ sake.”
Kids ministry is a unique thing in the life of the church. It is simultaneously one of the most challenging and one of the most rewarding ministries. There are few things in the life of a church that can leave you exhausted and refreshed quite like working with kids in the church. On any given week, kids ministry leaders can be found running, crawling, jumping, shouting, whispering, laughing, crying, smiling, and frowning.
Leaders in kids ministry are caretakers, teachers, playmates, mediators, parent-figures, and role models. These roles, when fulfilled, produce tired bodies and full souls. Ministering to kids is exhausting. Yet, there is nothing so satisfying as seeing kids learn deep biblical truths for the first time, begin to trust Christ, and grow in intimacy with Christ.
Nevertheless, the labors of kids ministry often go unnoticed and servants can feel unappreciated. It is tempting to feel like serving in kids ministry is nothing more than a glorified babysitting service so the rest of the congregation can do real ministry. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Kids ministry is foundational in the spiritual, theological, and worldview formation of a person. Paul encouraged Timothy,
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:14-15).
John Calvin believed the teaching of children was fundamental to the future of the church. He once said, “Believe me, the Church of God will never be preserved without catechesis.” Likewise, Puritan Thomas Watson once said, “To preach and not to catechize [teach] is to build without foundation.”
If you serve in kids ministry, know that your work is most valuable not only for the spiritual formation of the kids you teach, but also for the future of the church. You are not just a babysitter. For some kids, you are a trusted and invaluable partner with their parents as they disciple. For other kids, you may just be the only source of love, grace, and truth they will ever see.
If you lead or serve in children’s ministry, Lord knows you aren’t in it for personal glory. But never forget that you are in children’s ministry for glory. Children’s ministers and servants are laboring for the glory of the Lord in the little hearts and minds of boys and girls. We are praying, teaching, loving, and leading children for the praise of the glory of the grace of God in Christ.
So, I pray my fellow children’s ministry leaders and servants find deep satisfaction in our often difficult and thankless work. I pray we find satisfaction in presenting the gospel to kids. I pray we find satisfaction in teaching small kids big truths to blow their minds and ground their feet. In a culture that is constantly shifting, I pray we resolve to continue teach children the immovable truth of the gospel even if we don’t see any results in our time with them.
Spurgeon said it best:
Teach the little ones the whole truth and nothing but the truth; for instruction is the great want of the child’s nature. A child has not only to live as you and I have, but also to grow; hence he has double need of food. When fathers say of their boys, ‘What appetites they have!’ they should remember that we also would have great appetites if we had not only to keep the machinery going, but to enlarge it at the same time. Children in grace have to grow, rising to greater capacity in knowing, being, doing, and feeling, and to greater power from God; therefore above all things they must be fed. They must be well fed or instructed, because they are in danger of having their cravings perversely satisfied with error. Youth is susceptible to evil doctrine. Whether we teach young Christians truth or not, the devil will be sure to teach them error. They will hear of it somehow, even if they are watched by the most careful guardians. The only way to keep chaff out of the child’s little measure is to fill it brimful with good wheat. Oh, that the Spirit of God may help us to do this! The more the young are taught the better; it will keep them from being misled (Come Ye Children: Practical Help Telling Children About Jesus, pp. 10-11).
Mathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew and his wife, Erica, live in Tupelo with their two boys, Jude and Jack.