Before Jesus returned to Heaven, He gave us the Great Commission. It is found in Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV), which says, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
When I was a little boy back in the 1960s, God planted a seed in my heart for world evangelism. Long before there were compact discs and online streaming services, there were vinyl records. In addition to listening to music on a record player, I also listened repeatedly to one album titled “You Can Be a Soul Winner,” which was recorded and produced by a traveling evangelist, who was also a family friend.
“You Can Be a Soul Winner” was a two-sided record. On side A, the evangelist preached a sermon on the Great Commission. While on side B, he taught a class on personal evangelism.
In Proverbs 11:30 (NKJV), the Scripture says, “And he who wins souls is wise.” As a kid, I wanted to be a soul winner, too!
Fast forward to 1980, and I am 22 years old and single. I am in my third and final year of working simultaneously at two small churches. In addition, I served for one year as a West Coast Associate Evangelist for a national youth organization that ministered to teens.
As you can imagine, I was involved in many things at that time, but not doing any of them well. I learned that staying busy does not equate to fruitful ministry. As I considered my future, I knew that my passions were world evangelism and children’s ministry. Unfortunately, neither of the churches could employ me full-time, so I resigned from both churches and from the national youth organization and launched my own full-time ministry.
On May 16, 1980, I founded and incorporated Children’s Ministries International as a non-profit organization. First, I stepped out by faith and trusted the Lord to meet every need. Then, as a missionary who was required to raise funds for salary and ministry expenses, I turned to God and His Word for help; and the Lord has faithfully provided for every ministry and family need. That was 41 years ago, as of this writing.
The year before I had graduated from college, and after the ministry launch, I was ordained into Christian ministry through a non-denominational church.
I was motivated by Christ’s Great Commission and Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV), which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
I had my marching orders from God’s Word to GO into the world to proclaim the gospel and teach children to follow Christ. I had six years of experience, three as a volunteer junior church leader and three as a part-time youth director.
I was eager and enthusiastic but young, and I made many mistakes along the way. I learned methodology by trial and error.
For example, I started the ministry by leading Children’s Crusades in churches around the United States. These Children’s Crusades were simple. They consisted of congregational singing and a puppet presentation, handled by my team of traveling volunteers.
I wanted to see children possess Christ in their hearts. I did not want them to make a quick decision or to say empty words. I was passionate about boys and girls learning what the Bible said about becoming a Christian, and I wanted them to know the Truth, repent of their sin, and believe in Jesus. (See Mark 1:14-15).
I had a zeal for introducing boys and girls to Christ, but the Children’s Crusades lacked Biblical and spiritual depth. Soon thereafter, the Children’s Crusades evolved into Weekend Kids’ Retreats, which were a three-day, two-night camping program for children ages 8-12. This weekend format allowed more time for Bible teaching and personal interaction with the campers.
Over the years, our global ministry has reached out to children for Christ in various ways. More recently, we have turned our attention to children’s ministry leaders, especially volunteers who serve children in their local congregations each week.
This podcast is for everyone who ministers to kids in the local church, so please tell others about it. I want to equip you for ministry and provide tools that will enable you to be more effective. I also want to teach you Truth from God’s Word that you can pass on to the children you teach.
FOR YOUR MINISTRY TOOLBOX
1) Visit our website at www.cmikids.com and subscribe to this free podcast. We will send you an e-mail reminder when new episodes become available.
TAGS: Matthew 18:19-20, Great Commission, Proverbs 11:30, Soul Winner, Proverbs 22:6, Mark 1:14:15, Weekend Kids’ Retreats
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