Recently my wife and I were given a booklet from another Church by a sweet older lady in our congregation. The booklet contained a list of items the Church expected their graduating seniors to know. It outlined bible information along with stories they should know from the Bible and the basic tenants of faith. I have to admit that I love the idea and I have been thinking about it as a model for ministry.
The problem that I keep thinking about is that all of the youth in the Church have varying knowledge based on their background. Some young people come to Church in kindergarten and others do not arrive till their sophomore year in High school. Some kids are taught the Bible at home and some have no exposure to anything Biblical outside of Church. This huge difference in background makes it very hard for us to have one set standard as a goal for our youth.
I do think it is important to have a clear idea about what we want to achieve with our children. What is the purpose of the Church in ministry to the next generation? What would we really like to see happen with our children at Church?
Many Churches have set the goal of simply teaching their kids to sit still and be quiet. I had a youth minister tell me years ago what he saw in leading children. He said something like, “We teach kids to sit still and be quiet because what is happening has nothing to do with them. Then when they get older they lose interest in Church because they have been taught that it has nothing to do with them.” If that’s true then it’s no wonder that most children leave home and never attend Church again. After all, Church is a place where we learned our manners and not much about God.
So what should be our goal for ministry to the next generation? After much thought I have come to a clearer idea of what I believe are the end goals for children’s ministry:
1) See children become believers
2) Lead children into a growing relationship with Jesus
3) Develop children who follow God their whole life
I hope the Church can be a place that gives children the basic tools for a life of faith, not just a decision to make. I want to see them grow as strong men and women of faith that follow Jesus into adulthood. I think the real test of ministry is where our children are a couple of years after high school.
I firmly believe that the greatest ministry a Church can do is the ministry it does for the next generation. I would hate to see even one young person fail to become the person God want them to be. It doesn’t matter whether it is my kids or yours.