by John Hailes/ November 24, 2019
Have you ever encountered a selfish child? That might be a stupid question. It’s a characteristic that is hard for a child to escape because from day one they are subliminally taught that life revolves around them. This happens naturally because parents care for them 24 hours a day, grandparents spoil them rotten, and they aren’t responsible for anything or anyone else.
Unfortunately, as kids get older, the world reinforces this notion that they should be the center of their world. The challenge for the Church is that this is contrary to the gospel and our call as Christians. Discipleship should mature us as Christians from being self-centered to God-centered. We are called to make God the center of our life.
Here are some ways to make sure you are teaching kids that God is central:
1. Show that God is the hero of every story.
When we share Bible stories with kids, we must be careful that we are promoting God in every story. He is the hero of every story, and in His grace, He works through people. We are often too quick to teach that people are the center of the Bible’s narrative. Kids grow up aspiring to be like the heroes of the Bible who defeated giants, brought words from God, and showed courage serving God. While there is much we can learn from the people of the Bible, we should first show kids that God is the center of the Bible and that people could only do those incredible things because God was the center of their life.
2. Make church more than just a fun time.
I’m a big proponent for having fun in kid’s church, but sometimes it’s easy for children’s ministry leaders to focus just on making sure kids have fun. If we aren’t careful, we slip into a habit of entertaining kids, which shows them that they are the central part of church. As they grow up, if they aren’t happy with church, they don’t like the preaching or the worship, then they complain because they have sometimes subconsciously been taught that church is about their pleasure. Our kids need to know that we attend church to worship our Savior—not to just have a fun time.
3. Create space for kids and leaders to share their story.
Some of my most poignant memories of growing up were of Sunday night church services. Sunday nights were usually testimony nights in the small church I grew up in. Everyone was encouraged to get up and share about the things God was doing in their life. We must create space for people to share their story in our children’s ministry. When they share their story, they reveal the role that God is playing in their life. When kids share their story, we can help them discover the role God is playing. I often wonder what the Church could look like in 10 years if we would just ensure that kids are taught that God is central. IF the Church truly understood this truth, then the mission fields would be full, and children’s ministries wouldn’t be needing volunteers.
God is central. Don’t take His place.