Kids ministry can be fun, relational, engaging, and relevant. A place for kids to belong, to be known, to be loved, and, ultimately, to be transformed. But for all of the money, people power, and creativity that is involved in ministry to children, we recognize that what they REALLY need are regular, life-giving encounters with the living God.
This is the ultimate goal of the ministry we are doing ... to connect kids with a God who is bigger than their biggest problem, nearer than the closest fear. A God who is WITH them, who LOVES them, and who is MORE THAN ABLE to help them.
This is why I would say that "the altar is the point," and the place we want all of our kids to arrive. However, I am not referring to "the altar" as a place in a building or even a moment in a service where everyone gets deep and serious all of a sudden. Rather, it is anytime and anyplace that we pause and bring our lives, issues, problems, fear, needs, and desires and present them before God, inviting Him in to be our ultimate life, hope, healer, and help.
- THE ALTAR is not a LOCATION but an INTERACTION
All of our ministry - whether in weekly service or during a special time at camp - builds to those moments when children interact with their HEAVENLY FATHER and are MARKED and changed by that experience forever.
THERE ARE 2 Scriptures guide how we do ALTAR MINISTRY with children:
SCRIPTURE #1 -- Mark 10:13-16
13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
1) “Let The Children Come To Me”: INVITATION
We will PRAY for a child as often as they are WANTING or WILLING to receive prayer
NOT praying sinners prayers with them over and again, but encouraging and teaching them to:
Respond to the WORD of God and PRESENCE of God
HUMBLE themselves before Him, which involves
Recognizing their NEED for His help
REPENTANCE of sin and dead works
ASK for His help
Ultimately, we want the to build a HABIT of turning to God in trust for His help
2) “Do Not Hinder Them”: DISCRETION
Do not FORBID or STOP any child wanting prayer or ministry
Do not let the WAY we do ministry keep kids from Jesus
Not necessarily short, but CONCISE
Use WORDS they UNDERSTAND
Sometimes you enter moments with kids when their eternal destinies are as close as the air you breathe, if you can simply speak the right words. In their language. Because the terms and analogies mature Christians use to discuss faith issues with each other are likely to be lost on kids.
Be AWARE of what God is and is not doing in the child at that moment. RESPOND ACCORDINGLY
3) “To Such Belong The Kingdom of God”: EXPECTATION
Do not ASSUME LESS than what God is capable of doing.
Dwight Moody understood the substantial victory that takes place when children accept Christ. Was asked, "Reverend Moody, were there any converts tonight?" The evangelist answered, "Yes, there were three and one-half." The friend responded, "Ah, three adults and a child." Moody clarified, "No, there were three children and an adult." He then continued, "An adult only has half a life remaining to live for Christ, but the children will have the entirety of their lives to know His blessing and serve His will."
EXPECT that God is READY to do MORE that you could ask or imagine (Eph 3:20)
SCRIPTURE #2 -- 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1) “KNOW NOTHING EXCEPT JESUS”: EMPHASIZE HIS WORK OVER OURS
Faith comes from hearing ... The Word of God
We do not need to give them GOOD ADVICE, we need to give them the GOOD NEWS
2) “WEAKNESS, FEAR, AND TREMBLING”
We are not trying to prove OURSELVES
We are not in a hurry, do not FORCE SOMETHING that is not happening
Express HUMILITY, and LEAD THEM in humility
Bow before the LORD
VERBALLY recognize the greatness and the goodness of God
Approach the LORD with PRAISE for who He is and THANKSGIVING for what He’s done
ASK the LORD for what you wish …(Luke 11)
3) “IN A DEMONSTRATION OF THE SPIRIT'S POWER”:
Get FULL of His Spirit in preparation for ministry
PAUSE to LISTEN to hear from God actively in our service and in ministering to kids.
Leave room for the PROPHETIC GIFT - Let God talk.
The BEST ministry we might bring to kids in a weekend might be a single word spoken by the power of God over and above ALL the lessons we prepare.