Watch Me Grow!
Four essentials for fruitful children’s ministry
Some people who work in children’s ministry assume that as long they are using the Bible as the text for a lesson, a child’s faith is growing. However, Scripture does not support this notion.
In the Parable of the Sower in Luke 8, the seed is the same and the function of the sower is the same, but the condition of the soil changes. That tells me we cannot assume that because a child is present during our lesson, the child’s faith is growing. If we make this assumption for too long in our children’s ministries, we will end up with nothing more than a social club.
So, what should we do? To ensure the “soil” is rich for growing seeds of faith, we can invest in kids in four important ways.
Help Them Discover God
We need to move beyond telling the facts of the story in Scripture and help children see their Heavenly Father and the relationship He desires with them.
Recently, I taught on the good Samaritan. The lesson had us recap all the things the good Samaritan did to help the injured man. The action step was to remind the children, “This is what it means to be a good friend.”
There is no problem with this approach, but there’s a way the soil could become richer. We compiled a list of all the actions the good Samaritan did on behalf of the man. We then asked the question: “How many of these actions has God taken for us?”
In that moment, the children began to see that being a good neighbor starts with acknowledging what Jesus did for us. We follow His example and show our friends who Jesus is when we are good friends to them.
Disciple Them as Individuals
As a ministry grows, it tends to become more of a “spiritual factory” than a “custom shop” for spiritual growth. It becomes far easier to create an environment where kids are spectators of a presentation on the stage than it is to fully engage every child in the learning process.
Utilize classroom or small group experiences as part of your overall ministry strategy. This gives kids the opportunity to experience discipleship in a more personalized setting.
We cannot assume that because a child is present during our lesson, the child’s faith is growing.
Expand Their Thinking
In today’s digital world, kids have access to all kinds of information. But they often lack guidance in thinking critically about this information. They need to learn to ask questions such as, “What does this message say? What information is missing? Can I trust the author? Are there different points of view? What does the Word of God say about this?”
To navigate these questions successfully, kids need a biblical worldview. We can help them develop their worldview by moving them from knowledge to understanding as they grow.
Bloom’s taxonomy provides a picture of how this works in each level of knowledge transformation:
- Knowledge — What are the facts?
- Comprehension — What are the main ideas?
- Application — What problems can we solve with this information?
- Analysis — Why does it work this way? Is it repeatable?
- Synthesis — Can we put together different parts in a different way?
- Evaluation — How are other ideas similar or different?
Let me break this down for you with some sample questions based on the good Samaritan story. You can see how each level causes a deeper level of thinking and processing:
- Knowledge — Where was the Good Samaritan from? (Samaria.)
- Comprehension — What was the purpose of this parable? (To answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?”)
- Application — What problem does this parable solve? (To help people know how to treat others.)
- Analysis — Who would be your neighbor if this story were told today?
- Synthesis — What could the priest and Levite have done differently to show love to their neighbor?
- Evaluation — To whom might God want you to be a good neighbor?
The questions we ask can make a huge difference in establishing critical thinking skills in children.
Pastor Kids Relationally
Building relationships requires investments of time and attention. This challenge grows significantly as the size of the ministry expands and as more of the programming must fit within specific time constraints. Yet we must find ways to prioritize relationships if we want to help kids put down spiritual roots.
As you sow the seeds of the gospel, may the children in your ministry “hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop” (Luke 8:15).