2018 was a year of firsts for me. I graduated college, traveled to places I had never been, started a new job and began working on my next degree. It was all so exciting and new. But one thing I did that wasn’t in my plans was say “yes” to leading children’s ministry at my church. Out of all my new experiences, this was, and continues to be, the scariest one.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing I love more than walking with kids and watching them grow in their relationship with Jesus. I love hearing the stories from parents about how they caught their child singing a song we learned on Sunday or repeating the story we studied to a friend. I also love getting stumped by the difficult questions kids ask that force me to stop and think about how I can answer in a way that will help them understand. All of this is so encouraging, and it is what makes the tougher days worth it.
However, there is immense responsibility that comes with leading little minds to Christ, and it’s not something that should be taken lightly. Since I started this position, I keep hearing the phrase, “This is the most important ministry in a church.” I didn’t know if I believed this at first, so I started going to conferences, reading books and talking to people with more experience in this area.
I quickly learned how crucial the early years of our lives are, developmentally, physically and, most importantly, spiritually. Realistically speaking, who hasn’t heard all those crazy statistics predicting the future of many of the children we see regularly today? Whatever feelings of uncertainty or fear this may cause, we cannot let it stop us from the mission we are set out to do.
As children’s ministry leaders and workers, we must be ready to fight for the spiritual well-being of our children. This means jumping over hurdles such as volunteers, parents, money, time, frustration and even ourselves. It means doing our part by setting time aside during the week to pray for true life-change that may start in one child’s life but then continues to pour out into families and schools.
It may not always be easy or even fun, but it is possible, and the result is priceless. As we enter into a new year and reflect on the year that just passed, let us first rejoice because God is good. We can be excited because God is moving in the hearts of our children, and it is so beautiful to witness. We can be filled with hope because they are not the future of the church, they are the present, and they are going to do unimaginable things for the Kingdom if we choose to believe in them now.
Julie Souza is a grad student and serves as the children’s director at Celebration Church in Charlestown, MA.