I will never forget the day when our youth pastor, Shay Mann, called me to his office for a meeting. It was out of character for him to formally schedule a meeting without preparing me for the discussion, and he had given no hint as to its content. My only instructions were to be at the church at a certain time and to come with an open mind.
I was a little nervous as I arrived at the office. Having been a volunteer for many years, I deduced pretty quickly that I was about to volunteer for something new. I knew the reason the youth pastor wanted to talk to me was because he knew that I would never say no to his face. He asked if my wife, Dana, and I would establish children’s ministry at Atlanta West Pentecostal Church. My initial thought was that I was not qualified for such an undertaking. But that thought was immediately replaced with the excitement of the challenge.
That meeting has become a milestone to me, one of the best days of my life. Since that day, over eight years ago, my life has not been the same. The journey God started us on that day led to a ministry that I could not have imagined. It was the catalyst for faith in other areas of my life, and it has brought monumental changes to my world.
We already had Sunday school, special children’s meetings, and children’s revivals. But to have a regular ministry for children outside of Sunday school was an entirely new venture; one that I knew could be difficult. We named our children’s ministry “CHIPZ” (Children in the Power Zone).
The reception of children’s ministry at Atlanta West Pentecostal Church was tremendous. God was about to broaden our perspective regarding children. In the beginning, my primary goal was to teach the kids to love church in a brand new way. I wanted them to be so excited about getting to church that even the proverbial “Uncle Frank” would be excited about it too.
We started like any other children’s ministry—trying to make the kids happy with snacks and games. However, we never let a service pass without presenting a lesson or mini-sermon. And no matter what the lesson topic, when it came time for altar call, we transitioned to the plan of salvation: repentance, forgiveness, baptism, and the infilling of Holy Ghost. We approached each service with the belief that there was a child there who could receive the Holy Ghost, and with the expectation that they would.
God began to do His work
Soon, the kids came to CHIPZ expecting to have church, wondering who would get the Holy Ghost that day. I always expressed to the children how easy it is to receive the Holy Ghost and they have found it to be true. Since the inception of CHIPZ, we have seen (we can substantiate it) more than two hundred children between the ages of four and nine receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
I encourage those who receive the Holy Ghost to have a deeper relationship with God through learning the Word and praying in the Spirit. They are also encouraged to pray with other children, thus strengthening their friendships and experiencing ministry.
I have heard it over and over: “Our children are our church of tomorrow” I beg to differ. Our children may be the finances of the church for tomorrow, but they are the church of right now. Jesus said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Ghost has come upon you” (Acts 1:8, NKJV). We need to believe that. The Scripture does not say, “You shall receive power when the Holy Ghost has come upon you if you are an adult.” Never underestimate what God can do and how He can work through children.
We need to invest generously in our children—our time, our prayers, and our resources. Children should leave children’s services having received something more than a cool craft or new game skills. There is nothing wrong with those things, but what separates us and makes our ministry different? It’s the power of the Holy Ghost.
Children’s ministry is not, “Take care of the kids so they won’t bother the adults during church.” Children’s ministry is confidence in God’s Word, dedication to His work, and a passion that never underestimates what God can do in the life of a child. Children’s ministry involves knowing that your hard work, dedication, and sacrifice are furthering the kingdom of God and changing the lives of children. Children’s ministry is making it about them and their relationship with God. It is about helping children find their place in the church. It is about helping children receive the power of God in their lives. It is teaching them that they can live “in” the world and not be “of” the world.
There is nothing like being in a church service designed especially for children and watching them flourish. To see children receive from God and learn to give back to the kingdom of God is one of the most rewarding things anyone could ever experience. Has it been easy? Of course not! Children’s ministry, like any other ministry, requires prayer, effort, time, study, preparation, and a willingness to submit to God. Children are not shy about recognizing if you are unprepared. They know if you really love them and care about them.
Jesus took time to minister to children. He made it plain that they should have access to Him. Do we unwittingly bar them by refusing to minister to them on their level? It is past the time for effective children’s ministry to be merely an option in our churches. The world is after our children at an increasingly younger age. It is imperative that we reach them.
You can make a difference in the lives of our children. They can make a difference in your church. Be passionate about the mission. Give yourself to God and allow Him to use you. Allow Him to use your children. Let us work together to evangelize our children and bring them into relationship with Jesus Christ.
Brad Fain is the youth pastor of Atlanta West Pentecostal Church and former children’s minister. Darrell Johns is the pastor. Brad and Dana have two children, Colton (8) and Adara (6). Brad is a licensed minister with United Pentecostal Church International. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services, specializing in children.
This article “CHIPZ” by Brad Fain was excerpted from: www.pentecostalherald.com website. August 2008. It may be used for study & research purposes only.