4 Ways Pastors Can Make An Impact On Kids In Their Church
One of the great joys and responsibilities each of us have in serving as pastors in the local church is knowing, feeding, leading, and protecting the children God has put under our care. While some pastors choose to have very minimal personal interaction with kids in their congregation, choosing to delegate "kid stuff" to volunteers or other paid staff, I believe this is a major pastoral mistake. It is a mistake that robs not only children from experiencing a close relationship with their pastor, but it robs pastors of the joy of knowing and caring for children.
Jesus loved children. So should every pastor. And the kids in your church should experience that love.
The question is, how can pastors begin to proactively make a loving impact on the kids in their congregation? Let me offer four strategies...
#1. Get involved with children’s ministry activities at your church.
Trust me, I get it. Your time as a pastor is limited. But even in light of your busy schedule, look for opportunities to periodically volunteer in the children’s ministry in some capacity. I'm not saying you need to do this every week, but be intentional to help out and serve on a regular basis. You have no idea the impact you can have on kids by just showing up, pastor! Helping to lead worship or a special activity at VBS, teaching Sunday School once a month, serving as a counselor for church camp...these are the types of things that show kids you truly care about them and they show your children's ministry leaders that you overtly support what they are doing.
#2: Connecting children to appropriate small groups, Bible studies, Sunday School classes, and other educational and learning opportunities.
One of the ongoing ways we as pastors can help children continue to grow and mature in their walk with Jesus, is by helping them get plugged into environments where they can be fed good spiritual food. In other words, one of our responsibilities in shepherding these little sheep is intentionally working to connect kids to appropriate small groups, Bible studies, Sunday School classes, and other educational and learning opportunities.
To do this well, we must be proactive in helping each child get connected to what they need, rather than waiting and expecting their parents to figure it out completely on their own. Yes, parents must take the initiative to help their child take advantage of different growth opportunities offered in your church, but as shepherd pastors, we must assist them in this. A good shepherd will do whatever it takes to help the sheep be fed the food they need.
#3. Providing helpful resources for home discipleship.
God has given us our homes to be a laboratory of sorts for the sanctification of our souls. However, many parents in our churches feel ill-equipped to make intentional, family discipleship a priority. The desire is there, the tools and strategies are not.
For this reason, you as a pastor need to strategize for how your church is going to equip parents to be the primary disciplers of their kids in their homes. Most parents have never been instructed in this, nor did they grow up in homes where this kind of discipleship was modeled for them by their own parents. As pastors and church leaders, we must equip them in this. In my experience, so many Christian parents are longing to be trained in how to disciple their children, as they see in the Word. But they need help.
I would recommend creating a space somewhere in your church that is set apart exclusively to highlight different home discipleship books and tools. To help you with this, let me share a list of some solid ministries that are developing biblical resources for you to recommend and use with families in your church:
The Gospel Project – gospelproject.com
Lifeway – lifeway.com
D6 - d6family.com
Home Pointe - drivefaithhome.com
Family Time Training - famtime.com
Visionary Family Ministries - visionaryfam.com
Faith at Home - faithathome.com
Gospel Family Ministries - gospelfamily.org
Rooted Ministry - rootedministry.com
Center for Parent and Youth Understanding - cpyu.org
Axis - axis.org
Seeds Family Worship - seedsfamilyworship.com
#4. Helping children get connected to godly, caring adults within the congregation who can serve as role models and spiritual mentors.
While parents are the primary disciplers of their kids, the rest of your local body is called to play an integral role in their discipleship as well. Many generations gathered and living life together in your midst has more of an impact on kids than we sometimes realize. One of the core commitments of our church is that members would “connect with one another authentically.” In other words, relationships are valued highly here. Community begins on Sunday mornings but cannot be fully developed during worship services. Therefore, intergenerational community groups are offered, and church members are encouraged to join them to connect with other believers.
If your church offers more than one service on Sunday mornings, you may encourage families to serve in one service and worship together in another. This gives opportunities for intergenerational service within the church and gives families an easy way to worship together with their kids.
It might be that a specific child needs someone to disciple them and serve as a spiritual mentor. As a shepherd, you may not be the one who serves in this role, but it is your responsibility to help team them up with an adult or mature teenager who is trustworthy and solid. Someone who can faithfully pour into them and feed them good food.
The bottom line is this: Every kid in your church needs a pastor. Every one. Faithful Sunday School teachers are very important. Children's ministry volunteers are a huge blessing. Other adults in the congregation are vital. But every kid still needs a pastor. What kind of pastor will you be to the children in your congregation, under your care? Let me encourage you, pastor. Ask the Lord to give you the wisdom, courage, and love needed to do this well. He will surely provide ALL that you need...and more! Enjoy this sacred aspect of your calling!