Practical tips for a spiritually healthy children’s ministry
Natasha Jamieson shares from her experience some practical steps to point children to God.
Within the first half term of my teaching career, I realised that the ‘to-do’ list would always continue to grow and that every item would never be fully ticked off! Alongside increased pressure to find the next-best teaching resources or creative ways to engage every single child, there was no wonder I quickly became deflated and lost sight at times of the reason I had chosen to teach.
As children’s workers, we don’t need reminding that our main focus should be introducing children to their Saviour Jesus Christ and discipling them as they grow into a deeper relationship with Him so that they, in turn, can introduce others to Him.
However, it is easy to fall into the trap I fell into when teaching: that of always seeking to improve by finding the next best creative prayer idea or dazzling teaching illustration. Please don’t hear me wrong, the desire to improve is a good thing after all Jesus’ own teaching methods were hugely successful. Jesus used the best teaching methods by telling stories with life-changing and significant meanings that met the listeners right where they were.
For a few moments, I’d like us to set aside our ‘to-do’ lists and desires to find new resources and techniques, and focus on a few key tips that will ensure we are in the best position spiritually to take our children’s ministry to the next level.
Face your target
An archer must face their target in order to successfully reach it. In Psalm 127 children are described as arrows and it’s our job to point them to Jesus, the target. But you will only do that if you’re facing Him too. When you run with perseverance, make sure you continually keep your eyes on Jesus, so that you don’t become distracted by other things, for example, seeking out the most modern teaching resources and methods.
I don’t know about you but when this happens to me, I end up trying to do it all in my own strength! Remember the familiar verse in Philippians (4:13) that tells us that we can do all things through Jesus who gives us strength. Look to Him continually as you serve Him. Draw your strength from Him and be ready to give praise to Him when you see your vision becoming reality.
Be inspired by people of faith
Hebrews 11 lists many of God’s people who acted in faith, following God’s direction, but who didn’t receive what had been promised.
It’s too easy to become disheartened in children’s ministry and we may not always see the fruits of our work. We dream big and hope to hear stories of the children praying for their friends to be healed and they are; or, of those who preach the gospel at school to their peers.
Although I’m confident that Christ will indeed bless you in your ministry to children and you will see fruit, you may not ever fully realise the impact of your obedience on God’s Kingdom while here on earth. Therefore, be inspired by the people of faith in Hebrews 11, remembering that many people's weaknesses were turned to strength (verse 34) and God too will turn your weakness to strength when you do what He has called you to in faith.
Check your pulse!
Part of a health check at a surgery may involve the checking of your pulse. Your pulse when being active compared with your resting pulse can reveal a lot about your fitness.
In order to fulfil and be obedient to God’s call as children’s workers, it is important that we take the time to check our own spiritual pulses so that we are working to a healthy beat.
Acts 20:28 says, ‘keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers’. The responsibility to shepherd our children is a serious one but when we keep a watch of ourselves, checking our pulse, we will be better equipped to keep a watch of our flock.
How then do we check our pulse? Here are three questions to ask yourself to help you assess your own spiritual fitness level:
1. How much time do I spend alone in prayer?
Luke 5:16 reminds us that Jesus would go off alone to pray. He had tremendous power and influence yet He still needed to pray. How much more so for us? We need to follow the example of Jesus and spend time alone with God in prayer.
There’s always going to be more to do, after all, when God has given you a heart for children it doesn’t just switch on and off in accordance with your programme does it?! Even Jesus had to withdraw from people who wanted His time and attention, so He could connect with His Father in prayer.
2. When did I last read the word for myself and not to prepare for children’s work?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of reading to prepare. God first and foremost wants to connect with you, His dear child, to speak to you, to teach you, to draw you close. Just imagine how much more of an influence you will have when you teach from a place of being taught, filled and in direct contact with Father God.
3. When did I last engage in worship without one eye or thought on what the ministry was doing for everyone else?
Worship is a wonderful way that we can connect with our Father’s heart. It enables us to give all the glory, honour and praise to Him. I believe it enables us to surrender everything to Him - not only in our ministry but in our personal lives too - whilst we focus solely on who He is.
Commit yourself to worshipping Him and placing everything into His hands so that when you step into the children’s work you will go in His strength and with His guidance and leading.
It is my prayer that you feel encouraged by these thoughts and not weighed down by all the tasks on your ‘to-do’ list. Remember that you are called by God to point children to Him. If you face your target, take inspiration from other people of faith, and keep a check on your own spiritual health, I believe you will indeed fulfil that to which you have been called.
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