Christ's mandate to feed the lambs (John 21:5) and to let the children come to Him (Mark 10:13, 14) commissions the Church to evangelize children and to nurture their spiritual growth. This commission undoubtedly includes bringing the gospel to children as well. Ellen C. White clearly reminds us that "when Jesus told the disciples not to forbid the children to come to Him, He was speaking to His followers of all ages—to officers of the church, ministers, helpers, and all Christians. Jesus is drawing the children, and He bids us, suffer them to come; as if He would say, they will come if you do not hinder them" (Evangelism, p. 580)
In the local church, Jesus is calling all pastors, elders, and local leaders to be involved in this important ministry of spiritual nurture and faith-building. In today's world, where children are flooded with ideas and values that conflict with those of the Adventist Church, it is imperative that leaders find ways to help children make right decisions about their faith.
How can pastors and elders get involved in helping children develop a loving, serving relationship with Jesus? Here are some points worth considering.
1. Organize Children's Ministries in the Local Church
• Appoint a good children's ministries leader who has a passion for children.
• Set up the Children's Ministries Committee with 5-6 capable individuals who love children and have experience working with them.
2. Empower Children's Leaders
• Provide opportunities for children's leaders to serve in planning committees where they can learn leadership skills.
• Support Children's Ministries programs by helping out in areas of presentations, transportation, promoting of events, etc.
• Encourage leaders to try new ideas.
• Provide budgets for them to organize children's programs.
• Send children's leaders to attend conference-wide Children's Ministries training events.
3. Provide Protection for Children by Screening Volunteers
• Appoint a screening committee.
• Assist with the screening of volunteers.
• Do reference checks on volunteers.
• Follow the guidelines established by Adventist Risk Management for screening volunteers.
• Support the ruling of the screening committee.
4. Nurture Passionate Spirituality in Members
• Encourage families to conduct regular family worships and to study the Sabbath School lessons with their children.
• Promote the importance of investing money by purchasing Bible lessons for children.
• Encourage parents to buy good Adventist books for their children.
• Help to teach a lesson or two in the children's division.
5. Organize Inspiring Worship Services for All Ages
• Involve children in worship by encouraging them to do scripture reading, special music, or collect the offering.
• Prepare sermons that allow children to participate by looking up scriptural texts, giving an answer, etc.
• Include a children's story during the worship service.
• Incorporate 1-2 children's songs in the worship service.
• Have a variety of worship programs (such as Children's Church) once or twice a month. Celebrate Children's Sabbath once a year in conjunction with the world church.
6. Organize Regular Child Evangelism
• Try to schedule a week of evangelism on the church calendar.
• Provide a budget for child evangelism.
• Work with the Children's Ministries leader to purchase a good program for use during the evangelism week.
• Allow children who got involved in evangelism to give testimonies up front in the church.
Children's Ministries should be a vital part of any Seventh-day Adventist church. As pastor or elder, you can play a major role in helping the children develop a loving, serving relationship with Jesus. You can provide opportunities to train and mentor children as future leaders of today and tomorrow. You can inspire your congregation with a vision to lead and nurture children in their spiritual journey. Support their programs and involve them in all aspects of church life. Remember, building tomorrow's church begins with today's children.
Linda Mei Lin Koh
Director of Children's Ministries General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists