Did you ever notice that Jesus never asked for volunteers? Those who followed Him were people called to join Him in ministry. Volunteering is just agreeing to do something without getting paid for it. Ministry is a matter of hearing from the LORD about His concern and responding to His call to do something about that concern. This is a little more than volunteering. In my church, our gifted pastor is not a volunteer; he is a minister. The elders, youth workers, worship leaders and Bible teachers are not volunteers. They are ministers responding to God’s call to make disciples.
Volunteering vs. Ministering
The great thing about the Christian life is that there are no menial tasks. The smallest task is ministry when we view it as an opportunity to respond to God. However, when there’s a need in certain church ministries — like parking lot attendants, coffee servers, ushers and…dare I say children’s ministry workers — we often hear, “we need volunteers.” The message sent is that we just need people to agree to help; no spiritual skill or gifting required. In some churches I have visited, they don’t even have volunteers watching the children. They actually pay professional daycare workers to babysit during the services.
The message sent is that we just need people to agree to help; no spiritual skill or gifting required.
Years ago, I was in a church in Mexico when the pastor spoke at the end of the service regarding their children’s ministry. I was expecting the usual “call for volunteers” and was pleasantly surprised. He began by explaining to the congregation how important children’s ministry was to the church. He then explained that they were not looking for volunteers. He stated with passion, that ministry to children was a calling — warm bodies keeping one eye on the kids would not suffice. He concluded by announcing that children’s teachers are leaders and not babysitters. Wow! It made me want to move to Mexico, learn Spanish and serve in his church.
Is children’s ministry a priority for the church?
Let me say first that I think babysitting is actually awesome, precious to God and a wonderful ministry to babies and their families. In fact, baby holding is one of my favorite ministries in the church. So please, let’s not disparage babysitters like me, who are led to minister the love of Christ to infants.
This common ministry outlook views children’s workers as “babysitters” and the faith of children as a lower priority than that of adults.
Unfortunately, many church leaders view ministry to children of all ages as little more than babysitting. The church needs some people to take care of the children while the youth and adults participate in real ministry. This common ministry outlook views children’s workers as “babysitters” and the faith of children as a lower priority than that of adults.
Children’s workers are leaders, not babysitters
In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, the Israelites are charged with helping children enter into and grow in a relationship with God. In Matthew 28, Jesus’ closest followers are called to “make disciples” of all the nations. This includes children. Furthermore, if a leader is called to influence followers towards God’s purposes for them, then teachers and children’s workers are leaders and not “babysitters.” God’s purpose for boys and girls is for them to know Him through a relationship with Jesus Christ. His desire for children is to see them live the life that He intends for them. A leader is someone influencing children towards God’s purposes.
In Matthew 28, Jesus’ closest followers are called to “make disciples” of all the nations. This includes children.
This weekend in churches around the world, hundreds of thousands of “leaders” are working to influence children for Christ. Every Generation Ministries is supporting them with innovative training and development programs and culturally relevant Bible teaching resources. We exist because every child must be given a chance to respond to God’s Word in their real lives, and we want to help churches do more than just babysit.