by Chuck Lawless
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Editor: this post originally appeared at ChuckLawless.
The stress of being a children’s or student minister or lay leader today must be intense at times. Children and young people seem to face pressures that my generation seldom faced. Families are more broken than ever. As a pastor, I want to be particularly involved in the children’s and student ministries. Here’s why:
- Staff members or lay leaders deserve my support. If I’ve hired or enlisted them, I have an obligation to support their work. They need to know I have their back, and one way I can show that commitment is to show up at some of their events.
- Children and teens need spiritual role models. They will ideally find their primary role models in their family, but that’s not always the case. One of their role models ought to be the person who preaches the Word to them every Sunday; however, the pastor whom they see only behind the pulpit will probably remain distant.
- They will likely listen differently to sermons if they know their pastor well. That’s not always the case, of course. But, I know from experience they are more inclined to listen if their pastor is their friend, the man of God who hangs out with them beyond the Sunday morning service.
- Children and teens need heroes. They will have heroes, even if they often find them among media “heroes” who are seldom heroic and sometimes not even real. My guess is they would turn in this direction less often if real, living, growing, honest, humble Christian leaders gave them more time and attention.
- They will eventually make some decision about Christ. If they choose to follow Christ, I want them to know me and trust me enough to allow me to help guide them. If they choose to reject Christ, I pray they will think twice because they know their pastor truly loves God and them.
- The Enemy aims his arrows at all generations. He frankly doesn’t care how much he hurts our little ones and teens. As their shepherd, I want to walk beside them and make it more difficult for the Enemy to get them.
- Even children and teens struggle with sin. As a young believer in my teen years, I struggled with sin silently and secretly. I wonder how many older children now deal with recurrent sin issues, too – but with no one to talk to. These generations aren’t likely to turn to their pastors for help if they never have a conversation with us in the first place.
- Some will be called to ministry. God always has the next generation of leaders ready when we older folks move off the scene. He uses us, though, to help prepare the young leaders – if we follow texts like 1 Timothy 2:1-2 and teach others who then teach others.
- They will be adults some day. Some of my greatest blessings as a pastor have been sharing life with adults that I baptized when they were children or teens. Young people who know and love their pastor are often really good adult members.
- Jesus welcomed children into His life. His disciples sometimes saw them as an interruption (Luke 18:15-17), but not Jesus. We who are undershepherds would do well to model our life more after the Shepherd.
What reasons would you add?
Chuck Lawless (MDiv, PhD) is Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Global Theological Education Consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He’s written several books, including Discipled Warriors, Putting on the Armor, Mentor, and Nobodies for Jesus, Dr. Lawless has a strong interest in discipleship and mentoring.
Dr. Lawless is also president of the Lawless Group, a church consulting firm (www.thelawlessgroup.com). He and his wife, Pam, have been married for more than 20 years, and they live in Wake Forest, NC.