by Bev Robertson/ January 27, 2016
Our topic this week, “Helping kids see beyond their church walls,” is particularly important to me and has been a passion of mine through the venue of children’s missions. In the Assemblies of God, we have an excellent missions program for children called BGMC, which stands for Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge. The program is two-fold and helps kids, in churches large or small, to be a big part of what God is doing around the world and here in the USA.
First, a children’s missions program helps form a heart of compassion in a child for the world that God loves. Every child can be helped to develop a tender heart for people in faraway places and for the missionaries that serve those places.
Secondly, through that heart of compassion, kids can raise money to help fund the preaching and teaching of the gospel all around the world.
I visit many churches that do not have a children’s pastor or director, and the question has been asked, “How can we have a missions program without a children’s pastor?” The answer is simple. A parent or even an older teenager with a heart for missions is a great candidate to help kids develop a love for the people of the world. You don’t have to have credentials behind your name to be used of God to reach out to a lost generation. Often, the greatest success comes from lay ministry. Even Jesus had no one on his team that had any official capacity in the temple.
A wonderful couple helps me head up the children’s missions program at our church. The husband works for FedEx and the wife works at an elementary school in our town. Neither of them hold any other position in our church, but their hearts are so big for missions! Together we have taught many children and raised much money to help further the gospel. They simply saw the need and jumped in.
Helping kids to be “missions minded” does not always mean reaching around the world. It may be reaching out in one’s own community. Home missions efforts are a huge part of the big picture. We know from the Scriptures, in Acts 1:8, that we are to go into all the world, but “home” or Jerusalem, was listed as a starting point. There are so many things that children can get involved in for missions right at home. It is an amazing thing to have children help another kids ministry get started, or to participate in an act of service for another kids ministry.
Let me give you an example. For the past many years, our kids ministry has reached out to one of our Assemblies of God inner-city churches. We provide Christmas shoeboxes filled with toys, candy, toiletries, and school supplies. We ask each child to bring a filled shoebox and explain that many of the children who receive these boxes might not otherwise receive anything for Christmas.
Our kids love this project! Knowing they are helping another child at Christmas has become so important to the kids of our church. They often begin asking in the summer if they can start putting together their shoebox and how many they can bring. We pray over the boxes before they are delivered to the inner-city church, and that creates a connection to God and shows that we do this for His glory. I have a team of volunteers who look forward to this project every year and who help generate the excitement of giving among the children and their families.
We must teach kids to look beyond our own churches and see the big picture. Not only does it help create a heart of compassion but it also helps kids to understand the church as a whole. When we say the word “church” to a child, they think of their own church. But when we develop a love for the world, a child understands that the church of God extends to every part of the world. It is the big picture that helps a child truly understand the great love that God our Father has for all people.
When we help to create and develop this outlook of ministry in a young child’s heart, the possibilities are endless! God may use child-like faith as a cornerstone of a lifetime of missions mindedness. We know this is the path that God often uses to place a call to ministry on many children’s hearts.Whether your are in full-time, part-time, or lay ministry, God may want to use you to be a key factor in discipleship of children in the area of missions. All that is required is a love for the world that God loves so much!