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. Nothing will leave you dead tired and rejuvenated quite like working with kids in the church. Running, crawling, jumping, shouting, whispering, laughing, crying, smiling, and frowning are all probable things you will see a kids ministry leader doing on a weekly basis. Leaders in kids ministry are caretakers, teachers, playmates, mediators, parent-figures, and role models. These roles, when fulfilled, produce tired bodies and full souls. There is nothing so tiring as ministering to kids. Yet, there is nothing so satisfying as seeing kids trust Christ or grow in deeper 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 while the rest of the adults go about real ministry. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Kids ministry is foundational in the spiritual and theological 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. You may just be the only source of love, grace, and truth some of these kids ever see. Though the labors are hard and the praise small, may your efforts in this work not be for personal accolade, but instead for the praise of the glory of the grace of God. Find satisfaction in presenting the gospel to kids. Find satisfaction in teaching small kids big truths to blow their minds and ground their feet. In a culture that is constantly shifting and in a world that is characterized by pluralism, teaching children the immovable truth of the gospel is a crucial work.
Continue serving the kids in your ministry every week to the glory of God and you will find that you will grow in faith, love, grace, and truth. Find motivation to faithfully continue in the work of kids ministry in the words of prominent Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon:
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 a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies, Dec. ’14). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife Erica and their dog, Simba.