Three reasons teaching kids the Gospel is good for you

photo of child reading holy bible
Photo by nappy on

In recent months I began serving as the kids ministry director at my church.  For me, getting on the floor to teach toddlers about Jesus has become a joy. But I’m discovering not everyone feels this way. And actually, I didn’t always feel this way.

I realize there are people who should never work with kids. But the reasons for not serving in a children’s ministry I hear from most people don’t stand to reason.  The main explanations I hear for why people don’t want to serve in a ministry to children could be summed up in three categories:

  • They aren’t “kid” people.
  • They don’t feel equipped or comfortable teaching.
  • And they need to be in church not with kids.

I’d like to show you here why those three arguments should not be reasons to not serve children the gospel.

Your theology needs the humility of snotty noses

Ministry to children is not dignified. When I ask people to serve in kids ministry and their response is, “I’m not a kid person,” I want to say, “Well that’s nothing you can’t repent of!” Unless you have a history of abusing children, your aversion to teaching and serving children as a Christian needs repentance, not a refusal to serve.

When Jesus was teaching the adults and crowds who followed him, his disciples were annoyed with people who were bringing their kids to hear Jesus. They thought Jesus was too important for slobbering, loud, disruptive kids. And when Jesus saw that the disciples were shooing the kids away, he was mad! He scolded Peter, James, John and the other men with him.  And then he told them no one would even enter the kingdom of heaven, unless they humbled themselves to the position of a snotty-nosed toddler.

There was a time I wanted to lead a women’s ministry. And when I was asked to serve in kids ministry, I felt disappointed. I felt like it was beneath me. And the Holy Spirit convicted me of my desire for an “honorable” position. Not that there’s anything wrong with ministering to women or adults, but if I am not in a posture before God that sees the goodness of bringing children to Jesus as an honorable position from which we grow in the Kingdom of God, I’ve got Jesus’ kingdom values all turned upside-down.

If you know your Bible, and believe sound doctrine, but when it comes to teaching the next generation the good news you know like the back of your hand your response is, “I’m not a kid person!” Repent!  You don’t have a personality problem, you have a sin problem. If you won’t lead a child to Jesus because kids get on your nerves, repent of hindering children from knowing Jesus because of your pride, anger, impatience, lack of love, etc. You’re theology needs a dose of snotty-nosed humility.  Humble yourself, get down on the floor with some disruptive kids and share your passion about what Jesus has done with them!

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.” And God commands his people, all of his people, to proclaim his goodness to the next generation.

You learn the best when you teach another

A very well-known fact about learning is that when you teach someone what you’re learning, it sticks. I work in a hospital as a nurse and the gold-standard for teaching patients and families is what they call teach-back. In teach-back, the patient or family member teaches the nurse what they are learning. This demonstrates that the patient comprehends what they were taught and can apply it to their life.

One of the more common replies I get when inviting people to serve the church in teaching kids about Jesus is, “I don’t feel comfortable teaching.” Upon further discussion I find what’s behind that is a feeling that they don’t know the Bible enough or don’t know how to teach.  But the very thing they’re avoiding doing is keeping them from growing in the area they feel insecure about.

The best way to get a handle on the message of the Bible is to spend time reading it, wrestling with God about it and telling someone else what you’re learning. I know for me, if I’m not teaching kids or telling someone else what I’m learning as I read the Bible, I won’t read it nearly as much. Teaching kids the Bible forces me to study the scriptures like I otherwise wouldn’t have .

The reasons behind God’s command to teach the coming generation about what he has done in Christ is not singular. It’s not just so the next generation will know.  It’s also so we will know! Telling others what God has done helps us grow. Jesus’ final command to us was to go make disciples and to teach them all that he has taught us. Surely this is meant to grow us up in Christ as well as lead others to follow him with us.

Teaching kids what you are learning from the Bible as you follow Jesus is one of the best ways to learn your Bible and grow in knowing Jesus.

Jesus is there

“I need to be in church, not with kids.” This is the third most common reason for not serving in kids ministry I hear from tired and weary people who are depending on Sunday’s preaching and singing to be the gas that fills their tank for the week.

We suburban, American Christians tend to use church like Burger King. We go to church to get our dose of worship and Bible and then head out into our week, running on spiritual fumes till the next week. We treat the church like consumers instead of a covenant body.

We are to come to God hungry and desperate, but he feeds us more than just for an hour on Sunday listening to good preaching and good singing. We are to consume what God feeds us, but he doesn’t feed his church the way the teenage cashier at Burger King feeds us, giving us what we want and sending us on our way.

Jesus said to his disciples once, “I have food you know nothing about.” He was talking about the time he had just spent telling a woman their society pushed to the margins that he was the living water she was looking for. Jesus was fed where he poured himself out. The same goes for us.

Jesus is not just in the sanctuary, or big room gathering on Sunday.  He is on the floor with kids in the nursery and in the elementary room opening Bibles to find out what God has been doing.  He’s at home, and in the office, and at the grocery store and on the street. He’s with us. He’s with his people. And he wants to feed us. He wants to help us grow strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. But this spiritual muscle and healthy growth in Christ happens in obeying what the Father tells us to do.

Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me to accomplish his work.” Our food is also to do what Jesus has sent us to do. It is the will of our Father that we teach the next generation of kids the good news about what he has done for us in Christ. And there, on the floor, with snotty-nosed kids, he’s feeding us.

The strength our weary souls desire is not found in escaping the denial of ourselves. It’s found in embracing the denial of ourselves to serve others in Jesus’ name.

We MUST Teach Other People’s Children 

In my Bible, Psalm 78 has a title over it that reads, “Tell the Coming Generation.”  In it, the psalmist is charging the people of God to hear him.  He’s admonishing them not to hide the wonders God has done from the next generation. One thing that strikes me about this psalm is in verse four.  It says, “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.”  It strikes me that this isn’t a plea for parents to teach their children, as in Deuteronomy 6.  But it’s a plea for God’s people to teach the children of other people in the congregation. We are to teach other people’s children.

Teaching kids the gospel of Christ through the Bible opened with young children, through songs in the nursery, through stories about Jesus to toddlers, is for all of us in the church. May the Spirit turn the hearts of the adults in his church to the children.

We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
and that they should not be like their fathers,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.

-Psalm 78:4-8

Church, do we despise the children?

tilt shift lens photography of woman wearing red sweater and white skirt while holding a boy wearing white and black crew neck shirt and blue denim short
Photo by Nicholas Githiri on

Kids are rowdy, they knock over our shiny religious teacups filled with anger, impatience and selfishness. But their rowdiness is no excuse for our complacency. Protecting our whitewashed lives is not what God has called us to.

When my boys were little I felt the tension between what I wanted to do with my days and what I was actually doing.  Tending to my screaming toddler, appologizing to the parent of the child my child just bit and disciplining my child what felt like a thousand times a day was not in my plans.  When your kids are little the days are full of unseen tasks that help them stay healthy, precious moments of firsts and tender affection. As Christians, we set out with creative ideas and plans to do what can feel like futile attempts to model loving Jesus and teaching them to say his name.

When your kids are older the days are packed with resolving conflict, long talks, hours of pleading in prayer, and casting vision for what you see God doing in their life. At this age you attend concerts that sound similar to nails scratching a chalkboard, but clap like it’s a professional orchestra. You attend baseketball games yelling, “Get your hands up! Get down by the hoop! Good try!” And all the challenging days of raising kids can feel they are keeping you from your real life. But as my pastor Jason Vance says to parents, spending all day working out problems with your kids is your real life.

Among parents and grandparents and non-parents in the church I see the same disillusion about kids.  We tend to think of kids in the church as the people someone else will teach. Some of us think we’re too old, or not good with kids. Some of us think we’re too young and don’t know what to do with kids. Some of us find kids too annoying. Some of us find kids exhausting. But God has not called his people in the church to look at the coming generation and hope someone else is teaching them.

Jesus said we should not “despise” the little ones among us (Matthew 18:10).  Despising children is a real problem in the church. It’s easy to say we are pro-life, but refuse to lower ourselves to goldfish, fruit snacks, snotty noses, crying toddlers and telling stories on the floor about the God who made those rowdy kids in his image and sent his Son to lay down his life for their sins so they could be with him forever!

Not everyone is going to bear or adopt children. But all of us are called to pass on the message of the gospel to the generation coming up behind us. There are exceptions of people who should not work with children due to criminal convictions, or cannot work with children due to disability or injury. But for most of us, our excuses for not teaching the next generation of kids in the church the gospel fall short. In reality we despise how children expose our pride and selfishness.

Just as we are facing a tsunami of elderly folks who need the humble-service of gospel bearing lives, we are also facing a generation of children who unless we teach them, will grow up not knowing the ways and delivering work of our God in Christ.

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses commands the older generation in Israel to teach the younger generation what God has done, delivering them from slavery in Egypt. He tells them, “Hey you guys, God is telling you all to do all these things and let all He has done for you be on your heart because you’ve seen what he has done for you. But the generation after you hasn’t. So do what I’m telling you to do! And talk to the kids in your everyday life about all God has done” (My paraphrase of Deuteronomy 11).

But in Judges 2:10, after Moses and Joshua are dead and gone, it says, “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.” Israel had despised the children. They failed to let what God had done be on their hearts, and they failed to tell the kids among them what God had for them. Oh that we, the church in 2019 would not be guilty of raising a generation we despised, who don’t know the work the Lord has done for us!

Welcoming children in Jesus’ name, teaching them the gospel of Christ is a picture of the position of humility from which we enter the kingdom of heaven- like a little child, wide-eyed and rowdy, needing discipline and self-sacrificing love. We need to get down on the ground with the kids and remember the faithfulness of God to bear with us daily, like a grown up giving up his or her days to love and train a child in the ways of Jesus.

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:1-5, 10‬ ‭

Momma-Preacher: Meditations on Deuteronomy 6 and 11

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words I command you today shall be on your heart.” Deuteronomy 6:5-6

Therefore you shall love the LORD your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always. Know today that [I do] not [speak] with your children, who have not known and who have not seen the chastening of the LORD your God, His greatness and His mighty hand and His outstretched arm…what He did for you in the wilderness until you came to this place…but your eyes have seen every great act of the LORD which He did… Therefore you shall keep every commandment which I command you today…Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes…You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. – Deuteronomy 11:1-2,5,7,8,18-19

Every night I tuck them in bed after hurried mornings in a divided house; away all day eye-ball deep in  the damaging effects of sin on and in our children, while they are in someone else’s care and under someone else’s teaching in this Egypt I live.

And when I read to them from the scriptures, or talk to them about a spiritual truth, or unpack to them some more of the nature of God as revealed in Christ and proclaim the gospel to them like the momma-preacher I sometimes become and they have a glazed over look in their eyes, and they sigh and start fidgeting around, and interrupt, and are obviously not captivated with what I am pouring my heart out to impress upon them, I remember Deuteronomy 6 and 11.  And I am renewed in faith and spurred on to remember its my being in love with God, and his words being on my heart, and because I have “seen”the chastening of the LORD in my own life and have experienced his work in my life, I am the one who’s going to be passionate and motivated in love and obedience to the One who has captivated me with His great love… not my children.

Not yet anyway.

That doesn’t mean they won’t be captivated one day themselves.  I pray they will.  I trust they will.

But for now, for now with a heart on fire and hands that serve them and a life laid down to nurture and teach them, I talk with them about this great God, who I love, and about his ways- which are wonderful and always good- and His amazing story and how he redeems and their only hope.  I talk with them when we’re doing our everyday stuff and when I get 5 minutes to tuck them in at night.  And I entrust the seed to the One who gives it life and who promised it will accomplish the purpose for which he sent it out of this momma’s mouth.


A whiff of heaven

Explaining sanctification to a 7 year old is really… clarifying. I think all we who claim to be Christians should at some point try describing the process of “being sanctified” to a child.

It was a really precious moment. And quite frankly I wasn’t expecting it. Actually I was tired, cold and day-dreaming about when I’d get to be in a quiet house with sleeping kids sipping a cup of vanilla roiboos tea latte, when a sweet(and very smart I might add) seven year old friend of mine came up to me at the bleachers and declared, “Uhm. Mrs. Sheila. I don’t think I’m a Christian anymore.”

Ding Dong. Publishers Clearinghouse just knocked on your door and you’re in your PJ’s Sheila!

I turned and looked the serious and concerned little guy in the eye and asked why he didn’t think he was a Christian anymore. He explained that even though he believed in Jesus as his Savior he was still doing things he knew were wrong. He sited an example from school today and said, “I still joke about things in a bad way and I know its wrong.”

My heart was instantly rejoicing!

First, here I was in a most un-suspecting moment, given a priceless opportunity to invest in eternity. Always be ready.

Secondly, the tenderness of this precious boy’s heart! So ready to confess. So willing to see the error of his natural ways. Oh that we would all be so childlike! We can’t enter the kingdom any other way!

Third, NOTHING else satisfies like doing what your Creator and Savior has given you the grace to do! When you do what you were made to do you can understand why Jesus said, “I have food you know nothing about,” leaving his followers scratching their heads wondering where He found chow while they were gone.

I had been feasting myself on crackers with cream cheese, watching my son play baseball on a beautiful spring evening, but when this golden moment was before me and I took it, I tasted the pleasures of heaven. I think I inhaled a whiff of the joy of the Kingdom while I labored in the Master’s field for a few minutes.

“You know honey, the very fact that you are troubled by the joke you made at school today is evidence of the work of God’s Spirit in you! Being a Christian is kind of like planting a seed in your garden. When you plant a seed what do you see?”


“Yeah. You see dirt for awhile. And then pretty soon you start to see a little green pop out from the dirt. But even before you saw the green sprout, under the ground that seed was doing its work. Eventually, the seed will grow and grow…”

“I KNOW! I KNOW! I KNOW what your saying now Mrs. Sheila! When Jesus came to live inside of me I couldn’t really see it. But pretty soon He’ll get bigger and bigger!!!”

Aroma of heaven. Joy unspeakable.

“Yes sweetheart. You just keep telling Jesus thank you for dying for all your sins. You keep telling Him your sorry when you know you did wrong. You keep following Jesus, trusting Him and He’ll just get bigger and bigger in you!”

Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land. – Exodus 23:30

And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more. -2 Corinthians 3:18

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” – Isaiah 55:10-11