Children's Ministries

The church of tomorrow is seen in the children of today. Beyond the reality that a church that tends well to children will draw more families to their congregation, the church leaders must be cultivating and training children if they hope to invest in the future of the Church. A good children’s ministry is a necessity to any church reaching an area where children are present. Children’s ministry is a strong tool to help teaching and guide mothers and fathers in their role as parents. Jesus demonstrated a strong passion and love for the care of children, and the Bible dictates that parents and communities have a responsibility to train and correct children if they are to be brought up right in Christ.

What is Children’s Ministry and Why
Children’s ministry is any organized effort to minister to and train children. They can be found in many forms, but they must have a correct focus and purpose. Criswell says, “All the programs for children in the church ought to have an outreaching, evangelistic appeal. Everything done ought to mean something for Christ” (Criswell 1980, 258). Children’s ministry programs should understand and come under the teaching of the Bible. Much of the teaching is directed at parents, but the church can be a service to both the child and the parent if guidance comes from Scripture.

In Matthew 18, Jesus is asked who the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven is. He calls to himself a child and says,
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes on 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 18:3-6, ESV).
This passage shows that Christ cares for children and loves their humility. But in addition, he charges those present (and by extension, the student of the Bible today) to receive children and keep them from sinning. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 demonstrates God’s desire that the children be taught Scripture and the ways of God. And when Paul writes to encourage Timothy he says, “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 Timothy 2:14-15, ESV, emphasis added). This passage clearly demonstrates that Timothy new the Scriptures from his youth, and it is from those Scriptures that he learned and knows of the salvation through Christ. While not prescriptive, it does show the value of teaching children of Scripture, salvation, and of Jesus Christ.

Examples of Children’s Ministry 
The most common from of children’s ministry is found in Sunday school. Criswell argues this is the most important and it has a great value because it works in conjunction with the entire family as each member has something for him or her at church on Sunday (Criswell 1980, 258). Sunday school for children generally offers the ability for children to socialize with one another, but it also includes some age-appropriate worship and teaching. In addition to Sunday school, mid week programs can serve children well. MOPS, that is Mothers of Pre-Schoolers is another opportunity to minister to children and train and teach mothers.

Something else to consider is the single parent environment become prevalent in many communities. Clinton and Hawkins claim, “40 percent of American children are being raised in homes where no father is present. These children have more physical, emotional, and behavioral problems than children whose father is present, and it is more likely that they will be incarcerated” (Clinton and Hawkins 2009, 182). This certainly does not mean that the church is solely responsible to fill the void of a missing father; however, a children’s ministry program might have an opportunity to provide a child aspects missing in his or her life, as well as continually introduce the child to Jesus. Regardless of the program, the key is for a pastor to see the need and generate programs for children that will fill that need in a Christ-centered way.

Clinton, Timothy E., and Ronald E. Hawkins. The Quick-Reference Guide to Biblical
Counseling: Personal and Emotional Issues. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 2009.

Criswell, W.A. Criswell's Guidebook for Pastors. Nashville, Tenn: Broadman Press, 1980.
*Photo property of D Sharon Pruitt and used by permission.