Kids Are Not Called to Be Bench Warmers—They Have a Calling to Serve Now!

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Dr. Clint May

 Dr. Clint May has been married to his best friend Vicki for more than 40 years. They have six children and thirteen grandchildren. Clint is the Founder and President of L.I.T. Ministries. Clint’s passion is to reach children and students with the Gospel of Christ and to disciple, equip, and release them in ministry in the church and on mission. Website: http://leadersintraining.com/

Have you ever wondered when a child can serve in the church? At what age do we start out developing them into leaders and fellow ministers in the body of Christ? If you look at our current situation in the local church, there is something missing. Like most children’s pastors, you probably have a hard time getting volunteers to serve. Adults, and especially parents, just don’t seem to have any desire to serve in the church. But it may not be their fault. Could it be that we have taught them that service is not what being a part of the body of Christ is about?

Why is it so hard to get people to serve? Let’s do the math.

Birth to 18 years of age + sitting, listening, and having someone minister to me = Adults who just sit and listen as someone ministers to them

What would it look like if we allowed children to serve from a young age? Let’s do the math here.

Birth to 18 years of age + serving and ministering in the church = Adults who serve and a church without a leadership void

If you look at the game of football, you can get an idea of why football players progress in amazing ways in the sport. The reason is that many of them have been playing from a very young age. Kids can start as young as 6 years of age playing Pee Wee football. From there, they move up to four different levels, all the way to college level play. Each level prepares them for the next. They even have their own special ball size (10 ounces) for Pee Wees up to 14-15 ounces for college.

1.      Junior Football (9-12 years old, 6th grade)

2.      Youth Football (12-14 years old, 7th-8th grades)

3.      High School Football (14+ years old, 9th-12th grades)

4.      College Football (17-18+ years old)[1]

You may ask why I am comparing the church to football. If the world recognizes the abilities and talents of young children in football, shouldn’t we the body of Christ also recognize them in service and ministry in the church? If they can play on a team as young as 6 years of age, they can serve in the church at a young age. You see, service goes hand-in-hand with spiritual growth. If you want to see children in your church grow to new heights in their faith, you can help make it happen by allowing them to “play in the game.” Gallaty says it well: “Ministry is the pathway to maturity, not the other way around. The job of pastors, mentors, and leaders is to equip believers to carry out their God-given ministry.”[2] Ministry involvement and service are ways we develop leaders in our church from a very young age, and we eliminate the leadership void. Stadtmiller shares, “Believing kids are called not only to understand the faith but also, like us, to find their unique ministry and purpose, and live it out to the fullest. Navigating the journey with them is part of our divine commission.”[3]

You see, in Christ’s church, there are no spiritual height charts for service and ministry. When children accept Christ as Savior, they are sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13). They have God’s seal of approval through the Holy Spirit. That seal is the Holy Spirit, not a “baby” Holy Spirit. This makes children the church today—not the future only. They are also gifted by the Holy Spirit at new birth for works of ministry (1 Corinthians 12). We are called by God to train them and allow them to play in the game—ministering in the body of Christ. Paul shows us what the coaches (ministers/leaders) role in the church is: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

I pray that this will open your eyes to an exciting ministry path in your church. We pray that you will be able to step out and beyond the ministry box to God’s plan for children. When you do, you will see the future before your eyes as children in your church serve alongside you.

If you would like more information on how to help children discover their spiritual gifts and ways to engage them in ministry, click here.

[1] https://www.biggameusa.com/the-playbook/pee-wee-to-college-football-sizes.html

[2] Robby Gallaty, Growing Up: How to be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples. (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2013).

[3] Adam Stadtmiller, Discovering Your Kid’s Spiritual Gifts: A Journey into Your Child’s Unique Identity in Christ. (Ventura: Regal Books, 2012), 20.