Clint’s Corner

Leadership 300Have you ever heard the phrase, “Hindsight is 20/20”? As I reflect back over the past 28 years of ministry, I always struggled as a minister to find help and volunteers in the church. I remember hearing Jim Wideman years ago talk about the “Moses syndrome.” He said, as a minister, he would walk down the hallway on a Sunday morning looking for volunteers. The adults who saw him would part the hallway on both sides like the Red Sea. They were trying their best to avoid eye contact or being near him because he might ask them to serve. This has been much of my journey. As I began to ponder this problem, I realized it isn’t a problem that can’t be fixed. We just have to change the way we are developing our leaders. The reason that it is difficult to get adult volunteers, even parents, to serve is because they have never served in the church all of their lives. Let me explain. Somewhere along the way in the church’s great history, someone embraced the idea that the way to disciple and equip children is through indoctrination—having them sit and listen while someone teaches. We sit them in a classroom and use different teaching styles to explain to them how to live for Jesus. The problem here is that faith is caught, not taught. You can lecture all day long and never move a child’s heart, but teaching with action changes lives. Recently, I have been looking at trends that might cause a minister to rethink the way to do ministry.

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Journey of Prayer 92“I thought you were crazy when you announced that we would be praying for an hour and a half with the kids. I did not think that second grade boys could pray that long. I was totally wrong. They prayed the whole time with excitement.” This was the response from one of our leaders years ago when we took children on what we call “A Journey of Prayer.” We set aside one evening and set up our classrooms as prayer stations.

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Five Steps to Grow Kids SpirituallyAfter 28 years of working with children, I have found five effective steps that bring spiritual growth and transformation in the lives of children. In the summer of 2002, I tested the water with kids for the first time, teaching them five basic spiritual disciplines that I learned from NavPress® and MasterLife by Avery T. Willis. I didn’t learn these five disciplines until I was an adult, and they brought amazing change in my own life, so I wanted to teach them to kids, too. That summer, they learned these five steps or disciplines, which resulted in exponential growth that I had not seen in kids before. Here are the five steps we taught and walked through together:

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During one of our summer preteen mission trips, the Lord spoke to one of our leaders through a little girl. Maggie (5th grade) had an impression during one of our evening worship services to pray for this adult leader.

She walked Girl Prayingup and asked the leader if she could pray for them. The leader said, “Sure.” So, Maggie began praying, mentioning three things the Lord had put on her heart.

Well, it doesn’t seem like a big deal until you hear the other side of the story. The leader she prayed for was feeling discouraged that night. Before this little girl prayed, the leader was in the back of the worship center praying and seeking the Lord. While the leader was praying, three specific things were heavy on their heart.

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You might ask, why am I here? Why do I exist? For every child in the church today, there is a desire to find purpose and identity. Thinking even more deeply, how do we help a child find their purpose in Christ’s church, and do they AdobeStock 90324371really have a purpose at such a young age? I have wondered this myself. Like Jesus’ disciples, I was guilty of hindering children in their walk with Christ. I assumed that their faith was only about taking in information, not about expressing it. In reality, Jesus was speaking to me just as He spoke to His disciples who were with Him every day. Remember His scathing rebuke to His disciples when they hindered the children from coming to Him? “For of such is the kingdom” (Matt. 19:14). Maybe they didn’t see the children as persons to be heard, but only seen. I want to say this with all my heart, KIDS HAVE A PURPOSE IN THE CHURCH TODAY! In fact, children who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior especially do because God has gifted them for service. Here are a few steps you can take to make a shift in the way you minister with kids:

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Five Essentials to Making Disciples of Children

As the Lord prepared to return to Heaven after His years on Earth, His last command was for His followers to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Eric Geiger says, “A church canDollarphotoclub 2834864 excel at anything and everything else, but if the church fails to make disciples, she has wandered from her fundamental reason for existence.”[1] How do we do this with children? It doesn’t come through teaching only; it comes through engaging them in ministry. We must be cautious in embracing the idea of a secular education model to disciple children. Simply flooding a child’s mind with knowledge of Scripture doesn’t bring transformation. Nicki Stranza warns, “School is designed to cram information in our kids’ heads. Experience is more effective in creating an opportunity for thinking and evaluation.”[2] The church isn’t a school; it is the body of Christ on mission. Here are five essentials for discipling and seeing the lives of children transformed:

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About 13 years ago, I began teaching children six key spiritual disciplines. What I didn’t expect was the transformation that occurred within the first three months. I have served on advisory boards of major Christian organizations, and I have taught at conferences and attended conferences. One thing I didn’t figure out until Dollarphotoclub 11728590later in ministry is that faith is not taught—it is caught. Oh, I had children memorizing Scripture and attending church every week. I tried everything to get them through the door of my church. We even saw hundreds of children come to know Christ through our evangelistic efforts. However, I did not see transformation in children until I began to teach them how to have a relationship with Christ through personal disciplines. Paul tells us, “But have nothing to do with irreverent folklore and silly myths. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness [keeping yourself spiritually fit]” (1 Timothy 4:7, AMP).

Here are the six disciplines we teach children in the church that brings about transformation:

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One of the greatest joys I have in ministry today is my leaders—my children leaders. Not adults, but the children of my church. Don’t get me wrong; I love the adult leaders. You see, I haveDollarphotoclub 24982861
had children serving in my church for more than eleven years. It didn’t start out that way for me, though. I began having children serve out of need. We would fill necessary holes in our ministry with children who could do it. Well, what I didn’t realize was that as I watched them and gave them greater and greater responsibility, they stepped up every time. You may not know it, but each of us in ministry has a calling to equip the saints for works of ministry and not do all of the work ourselves (Ephesians 4:11-13). What saints, you might ask? All of the saints, or believers in Christ. That includes kids! Well, I have done it, and it works. Children are some of the most solid leaders we have in our church. 
Here are a few steps I took to challenge children and grow their faith:

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Once upon a time in a church not so far away, the children were sequestered in classrooms. They were told to be still, be quiet, and listen and while the teacher told them about the King and His future plans for them. Year after 92 sunday schoolyear, they were told to sit and listen while their teacher ministered to them. But their children’s pastor did not realize that the King had plans for them today. As the children’s pastor began to release the King’s children to participate in ministry, he suddenly witnessed that they could do amazing things for their King. Right in front of the children’s pastor’s eyes, they told others about the King and His plans for them. To the children’s pastor’s amazement, other children became part of the King’s kingdom. In astonishment, the children’s pastor began to realize, “Hey, maybe they don’t have to wait to serve in the King’s kingdom; they can serve the King today.” So the children’s pastor began to recognize more and more the King’s current plans for the children. He gave them more and more responsibilities, and they carried them out to the glory of their King. The King (Jesus) showed the children’s pastor that children are not the future church—they are the church today!

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YouTube logo full colorBe sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel. You will find a lot of great ideas for ministry and hear wonderful testimonies of children and students serving in ministry. To subscribe Click here.
 
  
 
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While attending a training conference, a good friend of mine Mike Lehew was sharing and made a statement that stuck in my mind: “We are not called to make converts; we are called to make 

Circle Cropdisciples.” That really struck a nerve with me. For the first 13 years of my ministry, I was a fearless evangelist for kids. I would share the Gospel on any and every occasion. I did everything I could to get them to the church and to reach them for the Lord. After they trusted Christ, many times, it ended there. I would thank the Lord that they accepted Him and move on to the next group of kids. In the midst of leading them to the Lord, I became burdened for their spiritual growth. One of my favorite seminary professors, Dr. Roy Fish, shared, “It is a terrible thing to lead someone to Christ and not disciple them in the faith.” The enemy will eat them alive. This might be true for the church today, with a record number of students walking away from the faith during their first year of college. Could this be the consequence of making converts versus making disciples who are fully devoted to Christ and His mission?

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