As young adults, it is easy to get aligned with missions of ministries that benefit us in the here and now. Dating ministries, newlyweds, non-profits, etc. However, there is often one major ministry that is overlooked despite the nearness of it to Christ. Children’s ministry is all too frequently overlooked and undervalued. In this, we risk an extreme danger of failing to love these little ones and set an example for them. There is a central truth often overlooked and misapplied, if we are called to love the least of these, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matt 25:4, ESV). The least of these include those who are innocent and defenseless. Millennials and Gen Z frequently disvalue the vitality in raising up the next generation.
A Change in Viewpoint
First and foremost it’s important to establish God’s heart for children in His Kingdom. First, there needs to be a humbling heart posture taken to acknowledge how you view the children’s ministry. As with everything, God is more concerned with your heart than how you present yourselves to others. It’s easy to say “care for the kids” and “children’s ministry is so important” all while making jokes about it later, or turning a blind eye to a need for active volunteers in the ministry. Jesus declares that His Kingdom belongs to those with faith like children. In fact, we’re called to look at them to model our faith after.
Establishing a Kingdom Mindset
Now, let’s look at the developmental factors of children’s ministry, and how God’s perfect creation of the human mind is impacted by their atmosphere. By age 3, a child’s mind is almost the size of an adult’s brain. During this time, a child is making vital connections and establishing permanent foundations. Children ages 10 and under have the most neuron plasticity, meaning this is the most impressionable age. When Proverbs says, “Raise a child up in the way they should go and they will not stray from it,” it means what it says. When our kids are surrounded by the Kingdom, their brain is literally shaped to a Kingdom mindset. 2/3 of people claiming to be Christians in the U.S were saved as kids. Meaning when you’re sitting in church, 2/3s of those people would not be there if not for at least one person ministering to them as a child.
There is an emphasis on the word “ministering” to children. To minister is to care and enter in as Christ did. Jesus specifically cared for the children, and we are to do as He did. If His Kingdom, which is where we find our citizenship and therefore what should be familiar to us, belongs to the children, then precious ones should be emphasized in our lives. I once got to listen to a sermon by Jennie Allen, a renowned speaker, where she said, “We are called to live as the end is near, meaning the next generation may very well be the leaders ushering in the next Kingdom.” This reframed how I should approach children’s ministry. What is the next generation going to look like? Who will these leaders be? What happens if we keep turning a blind eye to the vitality of the ministry? Do we only have 1/3 of those leaders?
Unity with the Young
The idea of Sunday School is almost mocked now. “That’s a Sunday School answer,” “That’s a little to Sunday School for me,” looking through your phone during a time where Children’s Ministry is giving an update in your church, or thinking that volunteering with kids is beneath you, all contribute to a major flaw in the modern-day Church. To build a culture that reflects the Lord’s heart is to care for the least of these and to start a foundation in the Gospel early on. It takes a heart being touched and transformed by the Lord to acknowledge where we are not walking in unity, because ultimately, we are one body. Where one person doesn’t see the beauty and importance of children’s ministry it affects the body as a whole. There’s an amazing resource called It’s Just A Phase So Don’t Miss It by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy that says,
But every week, the way you…
Embrace a Preschooler
Engage an elementary school kid
Affirm a middle schooler
And mobilize a high schooler
Has the potential to radically change their future.
Remember Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” In other words “I want you to treat kids like you would treat me. And by the way, just in case you haven’t figured it out by now, I am God. So just make sure you understand when you welcome kids, it’s like you’re welcoming God.” To minister to children is to build the Kingdom of God, which we are each called to do in the here & now.
 Dorn, B. Brain Development in Children: Making the Most of Brain Neuroplasticity. https://www.dornchiropractic.com/fileupload/Brain%20Development%20in%20Children.pdf
 Kummer, T. (2020). New Children’s Ministry Statistics (2019) How do kids come to Christ https://ministry-to-children.com/childrens-ministry-statistics/
Joiner, R., & Ivy, K. (2015). It’s just a phase, so don’t miss it (pp. 231,235). Cumming, GA: Orange.