7 essentials for developing, enhancing, and growing kids’ faith.
I started teaching Sunday school when I was 12. That was a while ago.
Throughout my years in the classroom, I’ve always believed that children experience and know God in a personal and dynamic way. I think most of us who work with children understand the importance of God’s impact in kids’ lives. Most of us would agree that children hold a special place in God’s heart. From the first mention of kids in the Bible, it’s evident that God wants to nurture children in their faith walk.
Developing kids’ faith isn’t optional. Jesus expects us to support children and their potential for spiritual growth and maturity. As children’s ministers, our understanding of how kids’ faith is developed, enhanced, and shared is crucial. Here’s what I’ve learned about kids’ faith.
1.Kids’ faith can be crushed.
Remember when Jesus’ disciples rebuked people who were bringing children to him for blessing? When Jesus witnessed their actions, he was displeased. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).
Children have a right — and a natural desire — to enter into Jesus’ presence. They have a natural faith. Our job is to encourage and strengthen that faith.
“It’s important for children’s pastors to know and understand that a child’s faith is both real and fragile,” says Jack Miller, children’s pastor at Grace Point Church in Irving, Texas. “It can be developed — or destroyed.”
Careless words and behavior can crush kids’ spirits. In their innocent and childlike faith, kids often share prayer requests about their pets, toys, upcoming activities, television heroes, and family members. Wise children’s ministers will encourage their faith by praying with kids and encouraging them to believe and trust in God. Sure, a prayer request may appear to be an obvious impossibility to an adult. But God listens and responds to his kids. Be careful about not taking kids’ sincere requests seriously.
“When a child talks about a wonderful experience or incident of faith, we must believe and affirm the child,” observes Irma Hendrix, director of children’s ministry at Mt. Paran North in Atlanta. “Use Scripture to show children how God hears them and has answered. Be careful how you reply to children when their faith hasn’t yet brought the result they’ve asked for. God is always on time and never late to answer.”
2. Kids’ faith has no boundaries.
It’s a fact that faith comes by hearing and living God’s Word. Whenever we teach kids the Word and they receive it, their faith grows. Each Sunday school class, each Bible study, and each interactive experience grants children the opportunity to grow their faith. With consistent, positive experiences, it’s natural that children will want to exercise their faith, resulting in further growth. Their prayers grow stronger as they see and believe that God can do anything. Such confidence ignites powerful prayers.
“A child’s pure faith doesn’t falter,” says Rodney Ragland, children’s pastor at Christway Church in Alabama. “I had a girl in my children’s ministry who began to pray that her dad would stop smoking. This was her prayer request for six years. When she left to go to the youth ministry program, her brother took over asking for prayer for their dad. This dad has been prayed for for over eight years. He still smokes, but the children know that one day God will answer their request, and they aren’t giving up.”
Affirm kids’ faith. Teach them examples of faith in the Bible. Share personal testimonies of your faith growth. Allow children to talk about how their faith has resulted in answers to prayer. Display a chart with prayer requests and dates of answered prayer. Give kids a prayer journal to help build their faith.