As I write this introduction to the Children’s Ministry Seminar, I am in my 47th year of ministry to kids.
I began as a volunteer when I was 15-years-old at a church in southern California where my father was the Senior Minister. At that time, the church was without a Youth Minister, and my Dad recruited me to lead Junior Church on Sunday mornings for children in the congregation ages 5-12. Junior Church took place in the chapel while the adult worship service was going on in the Sanctuary.
I was familiar with Junior Church, having attended worship services designed for kids a few years earlier when I was in elementary school. So I was happy to lend a hand and help my father.
When I attended Junior Church as a kid, the Youth Minister taught one Sunday on “God is Spirit” (John 4:24). I have never forgotten that truth.
Junior Church, commonly known today as Children’s Church or Kids’ Church, was simply a church for juniors. It provided a place for children to worship God together and to be taught at their age level. Junior Church also prepared children to attend the adult worship service later on.
We never had a purpose statement for Junior Church back then, but Psalm 78:4 (NIV) would be my choice to guide us today. It says, “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done.”
Being a young and inexperienced leader, I copied what I had witnessed in the adult worship service and did the same with the children in Junior Church.
The children and I used old dusty hymnals to sing hymns over recorded piano music which blared from a large reel to reel tape recorder on the platform.
We also worshipped the Lord by reading Scripture together and praying. There were responsive readings from the Bible in the back of the hymnals. I would read a passage of Scripture, and then the kids would read another in unison. Back and forth we would go until the responsive reading was over. Junior Church also provided a place for children to learn to pray and to pray in public.
Usually, a church Elder sat in the back of the chapel to observe. He also oversaw the celebration of the Lord’s Supper for the children who were Christians.
The kids always enjoyed serving as ushers while receiving the offering. Then I would teach the boys and girls from God’s Word, just as I was taught by the Youth Minister years before. (The unchanging Word of God continues to be what kids need to hear today.)
Sometimes we would have Bible drills or play trivia games when the adult service ran long.
It was always a joy to see one of our Junior Church kids repent of their sin and receive Christ as their Savior and Lord. Whenever a child was baptized by immersion, I would walk the group over to the Sanctuary to observe the baptism, which illustrated the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
Occasionally, a boy (always a boy!) would misbehave, and I would talk to his parents after church. I never liked doing this because I was a teenager and nervous about how the parents would respond. (I also remember getting in trouble at Junior Church when I was a kid. My mother heard about it from the Youth Minister before our car left the parking lot that Sunday. It was a long ride home.) Nevertheless, the unruly boy returned the following Sunday knowing that I would not put up with his shenanigans.
There were no snacks or recreation during Junior Church. It was a worship service for boys and girls that we treated with reverence and respect.
One of the blessings and joys of a long ministry is watching the kids I once ministered to grow up. One of those children is Rebecca. “Becky” and her younger brother were regular attendees at Junior Church. Nearly 50 years later, Becky is a believer in Jesus, a godly wife and mother, and a children’s ministry leader at a megachurch in southern California. She is telling the next generation about the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done.
I served as a volunteer leader in Junior Church for three years while I was in high school. This is where God planted the seed in my heart and laid the foundation for all that followed.
FOR YOUR MINISTRY TOOLBOX
- Take a few minutes to write your ministry testimony and save it
- Meditate on Psalm 78:4. Could this become your new children’s ministry purpose statement?
Tags: Psalm 78:4, Introduction, Getting Started, Junior Church, Mission Statement
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