More than crowd control – children’s ministry from a college student’s perspective

Blog, Children's Ministry

Ben is a senior at Virginia Tech and deeply involved in Northstar Kids ministry.

BenMessinaWhen people think of children’s ministry within a church, oftentimes they think of it as just crowd control for children under the age 11 so that Mom, Dad, and the older siblings can have a break from their kids to focus on God.

Sure, these kids will learn a Bible story and hopefully some behavioral traits of the characters in the story, but they’re not going to be able to comprehend the magnitude of Christ’s love for us on the cross or perform a hermeneutical study on core doctrines and apply it to their biblical worldview. All these things will have to wait until they are older in order for them to comprehend the implications of what being a Christian is.

But as I’ve worked more and more within the children’s ministry at Northstar, I’ve found it to be so much more than just crowd control and behavior modification. We’re having a direct impact on the foundational understanding and growth of these kids in a world where foundations seldom seem to exist.

When I first decided to volunteer in the Children’s ministry, it was mostly because:

  • I felt that I’d been a part of Northstar too long to not be filling a role within the church, and..
  • one of my best friends decided we should do it.

Now, I had worked with kids (ages ranging from 5 to 14) the past few summers as a camp counselor, so I figured it was a no-brainer, and I filled out the application. Shortly thereafter, Julie sent me all the information I needed in order to be prepared for the first Sunday I was volunteering. I scanned over the prepared lesson and showed up at church early that Sunday morning with some of the other groggy college student volunteers ready to take on the craziness that I assumed children’s ministry to be. It couldn’t be any different from the camps I had worked at could it? As it turned out, it was different.

It wasn’t just a free-for-all in which the volunteers have a plan to try and entertain the kids while the kids attempt to be as disobedient as possible. To my surprise, the majority of the kids were actually INTERESTED in what we were teaching. They were engaged with us and excited to learn more about who Jesus is. They showed an eagerness to answer the questions we asked them, and they genuinely seemed happy to be there.

This first day was just about six months ago, and my outlook on the ability of the kids to understand biblical truths and apply them to their lives has changed drastically. Kids are like sponges in that they absorb information at a rate that you don’t see with adults all the time. The difference is that kids are consistent in how they live. There aren’t many social constructs that are holding them back from living in a way that actually represents how they interpret and comprehend the world around them. This causes them to be less likely to be afraid to make mistakes, and so we see plenty of them. But that doesn’t mean they’re not learning! If anything, it’s just the opposite. They’re learning so much so rapidly that they can’t help but exude what they understand.

Teaching children biblical truths and sharing the Gospel with them helps to lay foundations for how they react and engage within their own sphere of influence – not only in the present, but also for years down the road.

For that reason alone, I would encourage other college students, parents, and other members of the church, to consider volunteering with the children’s ministry at Northstar. You’re not just filling a role; you’re making disciples. You’re being used as an instrument by God to help lay foundational truth and cultivate growth within the youngest representatives of our church and culture so that one day (if they haven’t already done so) they would put their faith in Christ as their Lord and Savior. And how beautiful of a role is that?

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)