Children’s Missions Ideas
By Various Authors
Right now, you can have an impact on the kids at your local church by offering to teach in Sunday School or youth group meetings–as a regular teacher, a guest/substitute teacher, or a helper to the teacher. Just ask your pastor, youth director, or Sunday School coordinator. This could also be done as a group–have the members of your missions fellowship team-teach it by having four of you attending it regularly and each teaching once a month. Tie each lesson into some practical way of involvement–praying, giving, writing a missionary, telling someone else. Also, provide continuity (i.e. study a country and its people one week, and in subsequent weeks learn about a missionary there, give money to that missionary, and then have the missionary visit the class).
The last thing you want to do is turn kids off to missions, so it will take creativity! Here’s a list of creative ideas: Role-playing, panel discussions, field trips, videos/slides/filmstrips, missions songs and songs from different countries, posters, displays with maps, missionary pictures/prayer cards, National Geographic articles on certain cultures & letters from missionaries, flash card/flannelgraph stories, showing curios, interview guest missionaries or international students, tapes, missions quizzes, missionary books, ethnic foods, hide & seek prayer requests, foreign clothing, theme parties, care packages for M.K.’s with toys, books, letters & pictures, puppets, newspaper articles, Scripture memorization, plays/drama/ mime, research projects on missionaries or unreached peoples, fund-raisers for specific missions projects, and arts & crafts paralleling those of other countries. Involve the senses and evoke responses; don’t just preach!
If we are claiming to be strategic and Biblical, then we can no longer leave children out of our strategies. Church planting strategies rarely focus on teenagers. They are rapidly holding “new leadership roles” as they are the members of the extended families who can read and introduce new information and technology into their families from the bottom up.
Children are change agents. Jesus saw them as such and present reality proves them to be change agents. Mobilizing children is one thing, but focusing our church planting strategies on them as a strategic, viable audience is another.
We need to mobilize kids around the world to pray for kids around the world; We need to be targeting children, adolescents and young adults in up coming conferences; we need to also be taking and involving children in a missions trips.
If there’s a time for those with a heart for children and youth, it’s now!
If you want to work with children and mobilize children to change the world, then expect SPIRITIUAL OPPOSITION BIG TIME! Everyone working in missions in any way experiences spiritual warfare, so we can’t say if it is more or less than what others experience. We only know it is foolishness to think that working with children in some way minimizes the opposition.
Satan wants children in a big way, and he will do anything he can to blind us to their potential or, when we recognize it, to throw so much opposition that working to make a difference becomes almost impossible. Satan loves it when children are “out of control,” especially in the church school or children’s worship or that we can only keep their attention because we are entertaining them with fluff.
The first step in children’s ministry is to stop making them the object of our ministry and begin to *equip them for ministry. That is a key thought that is beginning to rise with tremendous force.
For so long we have put kids in their place, told them to listen and that someday “when you grow up you can do ministry.” Those kids did grow up and are the adults who are still sitting in the pew saying “feed me” and have little vision for children’s potential.
We can make the children’s worship service *a real service* — the first place kids learn to serve. There is absolutely no doubt in that God CAN and WILL use these kids as an important component of revival. The challenge for us is to create the church structures to direct and “pastor” this. By definition a church for teenagers WILL look different to a “normal” church – just HOW different we haven’t discovered yet!…In my experience here, the kids are SO open to the move of the Holy Spirit, much more so (in general) than adults…
Spiritual renewal is an important tool in church planting among kids. It seems that kids who’ve had a powerful experience with the Lord get a desire to pray, to get together, to find out more.
A weakness of our North American/European mindset regarding children is our age-segregation. If we could see the church as whole families rather than segregated age-groups, we could have a much greater effect on children.
As it is, we do not seriously include our children in worship or Christian education; the kids are shipped off to another room to do crafts while the adults get all the spiritual meat. No wonder we begin thinking that children would require a separate church-planting effort. But this is not necessary if the family is taken as a whole.
God created us to exist in the context of families. In our church-planting, we must train parents in their all-important role of parenting so that they will have healthy relationships with their children and will train their own children in God’s ways, thus multiplying the number of children’s workers beyond any number of professional children’s ministers we could ever send out.
Including children in serious worship, Christian education, and ministry certainly goes against our cultural norms–but we will continue to experience frustration with children’s ministry as long as we do not view families as an integral unit.
God set out in the Scriptures a precise plan for children’s ministry. “When we get up, when we sit down, when we walk by the way…” [Deut. 6:4-8] Why do we believe we must reinvent His plan. True religion undefiled includes ministry to orphans; this covers the kids without parents…
Two random thoughts:
1) Don’t wait for mission agencies to get serious about impacting kids. They have extremely limited vision for that which they are not already doing, which in most cases is struggling to survive, and whining about Baby Boomers not giving them as much money as their parents did.
2)Don’t wait until you have a comprehensive strategy to reach whole families. If you don’t evangelize and train children with reckless abandon then Satan will win them. If your gifts and skills enable you to communicate with children then throw yourself into the fray. You will bear fruit and you will wear the scars of the battle in your heart for all eternity. Take that long view and don’t look back. Along the way the defects of your approach will become apparent and you can make corrections then. Too much theorizing now and you won’t get out of the starting blocks. Above all, be sure that your evangelistic lifestyle is truly visible and understandable to you own children. Most of us merely present a model of busyness, which eventually backfires on our kids.
The problem, as we all know, is the equipping. Missionaries are programmed to work themselves out of a job, thus they work hard at intentional discipleship, starting with children. Take every opportunity given you to teach equipping up through the ranks: children, Y.P., college, adult.
Of course it is easier to cook dinner than teach your children how to do it! Some, in moments of weakness, admit they are control freaks and can’t even turn anything over to adults, much less children.
All of you, keep up the good work and press on to equip the children.
This article “Children’s Missions Ideas” by Various Authors is excerpted from Your Kids Newsletter, May 2008.