Ministry to children is one of the most exhausting, frustrating, and unappreciated areas of ministry in the church. However, it is also one of the most formative areas of ministry in the church. While the goal of children’s ministry leaders is to play a supplemental (not primary) role in the lives of the children of the church, what they teach and how they teach what they teach is foundational for worldview-making and discipleship. More than just passing along biblical and theological knowledge, children’s ministry leaders give a person their first organized thought system about God, life, and their place in the world. Needless to say, those who teach and lead children in the church play vital roles.
The great Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon picked up on the crucial importance of those who lead and teach children in his short work, Come Ye Children. He once wrote,
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).
“The more the young are taught the better.” I’m thankful for the team of volunteer leaders I oversee in my local church and the ways they pour the gospel into the lives of the children we lead. If you teach children in the church or in your home, know that you are engaging in warfare. Fight for the sake of the children by teaching them rich, robust biblical doctrine. Don’t hold back. Press on, even when the work is weary and the recognition is absent.
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.