He who can reach a child's heart can reach the world's heart. ~ Rudyard KiplingEvery 5th Sunday my husband and I teach Junior Church. I think the ministry is wonderful but I dread doing my 45 minutes four times a year. I used to do it every month, but when it was time to say no to some things on my overflowing plate, this was one of the first to go (right after choir--mediocre alto voice...).
See, I am completely aware of my calling to serve -- my gifts do not lie in children's ministry. But the Lord has equipped me to be my husband's helpmeet. He is gifted to work with children; in fact, with any age.
He has the amazing ability to get involved in whatever game grabs the kids' interest. I remember several years ago during our once-a-month Extended Care time with the 4-5 year olds (during Sunday A.M. Worship) how one little boy was aggressive with the other children and unwilling to participate in any of the activities.
While I worked with the large group, my husband sat with this little boy tearing construction paper into tiny pieces and putting them in a toy dump truck. This went on every month for several months. Then my husband told the little boy that he had to sit with the other kids during story time before they could tear paper. To my amazement, the little boy cooperated. By the time he aged out of the class, he would participate in everything we did and would wait until play time to sit one-on-one with my husband.
This transformation took place because my husband spent time gaining the little boy's trust, eye-to-eye, focusing on what it took to engage his attention. Mr. Steve had reached out and touched this little boy's heart similarly to the way the Lord Jesus did in His own earthly ministry.
Jesus developed personal, intimate relationships with His followers -- not asking for immediate obedience but showing them His heart full of love for them. His eye-to-eye focus on the disciples led to a trust in His words that ended up in ministry that changed the world.
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. ~Acts 2:42-47Back to Junior Church: What a challenge the 1st through 6th grade group is! Some of the kids have been raised in church and cooperate enthusiastically. Some ride a bus to church and have no church background at home. Ministry to all these kids is so very important.
We have a vibrant youth group for them when they reach 7th grade. This middle ministry --between preschool and youth group-- must keep the kids interested in church and Jesus. My goal each 5th Sunday is to speak words in love that make them want more of Jesus.
I want this ministry to thrive. My grandson will be there some day and I hope the teachers at that time realize the importance of reaching young hearts at their most easily influenced. So I keep to it, trying to follow my husband's example and relying on his gifts to make up where I lack.
From Barna.org: ...teens who are evangelicals - i.e., those who are not only born again but also believe in the accuracy of the Bible, personal responsibility to evangelize, believe in salvation by grace alone, and possess orthodox biblical views on God, Jesus and Satan - have declined from 10% in 1995 to just 4% today.
Lord, help us reach the hearts of the children so they can reach the world.
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