The One Thing

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MAXINE WALDMAN

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Maxine Waldman is the founder and executive director of the
Caribbean Children’s Ministry Network -a training and equipping
missionary outreach. With over 30 years experience in children’s
ministry, she is a popular conference speaker. She’s the co-author
and instructor of Essentials in Children’s Ministry at Philadelphia
Biblical University, and she also serves on the faculty of United
Wesleyan College. She is the recipient of the 1995 Excellence
in
Ministry to Children award from the International Network of
Children’s Ministry and a commendation from the National
Association of Christian Education Professors.

Today children have more available to them than ever before in the
way of material goods and high-tech equipment. They could easily
tend to measure their own value by the amount of their possessions.
Today, adults who care about kids have more available to them than
ever before-better facilities, greater variety of teaching tools,
and more abundant staff training opportunities.

These, however, aren’t the essential factors for faith growth. The
foundational, essential ingredients for faith development in
children are the significant people in their lives. We as
children’s ministers and teachers have the capacity to greatly
influence faith development in children, either positively or
negatively, by how we live our lives for Christ.

Jesus asks us to teach as he did — with his love, his power, and
his creativity. Jesus asks us to teach children about him — who he
really is. He wants us to know him as our Savior, Lord, and
companion for life.

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The critical issue? Children need people in their lives who love
and know Jesus…people who live moment by moment learning from and
listening to God…people who measure personal value not by what
they have but by whom they have in their hearts. They need people
who believe in a God who promises to work in children’s lives as
they communicate God’s love and message. When children see a
living, powerful, creative God at work, they’ll want to hear more
about him and want to know him too.

This is the challenge for all those who love kids and want to see
them know and love God. We need to look “inside.” We need to
consider these questions for ourselves if we’re going to affect
children positively in their faith development.

• I know Jesus wants to be my Savior. Have I asked him?

• I know that Jesus loves us. Do I know deep in my heart that he
loves me? Does my life show his loving presence?

• I know that Jesus helps me. Do I live my life depending on
him?

• I know that Jesus answers prayer. Do I really talk to and listen
to him?

• I know the Bible has powerful, practical lessons for life. Do I
read it? Do I believe it?

Many times I’m asked, “How can I help my teachers be more
enthusiastic about teaching children?” I answer, “First, help them
get to know Jesus. Help them see him for who he really is.” As they
connect and communicate with Jesus, then he’ll start working in
their lives. When Jesus starts working…changed lives are the
result! Then, and only then, are teachers ready to tell children
about a living, loving, powerful God.

Through the years, I’ve learned some basics. These are needed to
positively affect a child’s faith development…

• Know the children. Take time to talk with and listen to
them.

• Pray for and with children. Pray for them by name and by need
every day.

• Be with children. Enjoy each other. And laugh together. Be
available in and out of class.

• Be prepared for children. Be ready for the first child to arrive
in class. Be there early. Set up and prepare for your time
together. Ask the Lord to teach you as you study the Bible
lesson.

• Be enthusiastic. Share from your changed life in Christ. Guide
children to discover Bible truths. Love them as God loves
them.

• Be flexible. Meet children’s needs — even if it means altering
your plans for class time.

When we as teachers love our kids as God loves them, God can and
will work through us. He wants to do this! To affect a child’s
eternity is part of the best adventure there is!

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