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Sacrificial Children’s Ministry

January 29, 2013

For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

(1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 ESV)

3 things I think we can pull from this passage pertaining to serving children in ministry:

1. …we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God… The gospel is more than a good idea, a set of principles, and a list of rules. In fact…I would go as far as to say that the gospel is none of those things. The gospel is God’s sufficiency in the face of your insufficiency. It is his payment in the face of your debt. It is his initiating at your running. It is the bloody death of God’s only son to atone for your sins. If we rip the bloody, awful, and yet glorious gospel away from children we will present them with an anti-gospel of self-sufficiency and good morals. Children (at an appropriate age, of course :)) need to know they are sinners with the indictment of death without the work of Christ on their behalf.

2. …entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts…Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others…I see people who work in children’s ministry make two errors in regards to this passage. (1) They seek to please man…or children. They make the gospel “palatable” and in doing so often rob it of its power. They want the instant gratification of watching a child “get it” and are impatient with the process of planting seeds. If you work in children’s ministry watch your tendency to stretch the truth, dumb things down, or even say something untrue because it makes you feel like a good teacher to watch a light bulb go off…even if it is not at all Biblical. (2) They seek glory from people. If you are a selfish person you won’t last long in children’s ministry. If you desire a lot of pats on the back then keep looking, because they often are not here. Much of what you do in children’s ministry is behind closed doors where no other adult sees you. None of what you do gets seen in Sunday morning worship. Nearly all of it is before the Lord, who loves his workmen who are dedicated to the faithful proclamation of the gospel with no desire for the praise of man.

3. …we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. The number one question in the subconscience of every child is “Do you love me?” In the middle of preparing lessons, setting up chairs, and filling volunteer spots don’t forget to bend down low, give a child a hug, and tell them you love them. Children’s pastors (this one included) could not only be more effective in ministry, but more faithful to God’s word by being gentle with children and letting them know that they are dear to you. This is the kind of sacrificial love that can draw a child to a God who is gentle with them.

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