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The Three R's

Jerry Lenz

We work hard to bring our children to the saving grace and knowledge of Christ. We want salvation and truth for our children. However when it comes to deeper spiritual matters, it just may be that we're quick to draw unnecessary lines and to trust our own sense without even considering God's greater possibilities. Perhaps we program God out of the picture because of our own misunderstanding of a child's capacity to draw close to God-and not just a lesson.

Desiring more of God for our children requires a different approach from our traditional Christian education methods of growth. In the midst of renewal and revival, I've discovered a new call for children's ministry workers-the call to become facilitators. Facilitators are willing to be used by God in services with children that aren't structured in traditional ways. They're open to allowing God to shape what ministry to children looks like.

During one children's renewal service, a 6-year-old boy stood up and said he felt that the Lord wanted him to say something. I asked him to speak. He said that in his mind, Jesus was showing him a big book filled with names. I invited the other children to tell the name of the book -- the Lamb's Book of Life -- and describe its purpose. That's facilitating.

I didn't stop what was happening and do my own preplanned lesson. I didn't explain everything. And this time I didn't stand in the way. Normally I would've rushed forward with a big teaching on the Lamb's Book of Life and maneuvered my way into an altar call. But those prescribed methods go out the window in renewal.

A prerequisite for becoming a facilitator is to experience more of God yourself. Again there's no cookie-cutter approach to how you and your children draw close to God and experience his awesome love. God will direct you into what that looks like. All you need to do is seek him.

Facilitators recognize God's intimate invitation of true worship. Jesus said, "The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." (John 4:23). When I worship in truth, my knee really does bend. My spirit yields to the spirit of God. My truth, my ideas, and my best guesses all melt as I surrender to the truth of God's Word. The theology of my favorite pastors melts. My mind and education make way for the King of kings. I surrender all to Jesus. Further, as I worship Him I am drawn closer and closer to the purpose of my very being-who I am, why I exist, and what it is that I am to do.

Children are hungry for the real movement of God. They'll open their hearts willingly to be transformed. There's rarely a spiritual heart-tug-of-war to convince children to enter into God's front-line ministry. They're eager. And kids are great at being who God has asked them to be and doing what he's asked them to do. Some of the greatest joys any children's worker can experience are being in the presence of an awesome movement of God, seeing children receiving God's love and then praying for and ministering to one another.

Kids can and will minister in renewal and revival. Dawn had participated in renewal services and experienced God's love. Yet it was during summer camp that a new season began for Dawn. The only words I can think of to describe her experience are "spiritual growth spurt." Dawn had a new desire to minister to others.

Dawn, along with her mom, two sisters, and brother hold church for kids in a community center on Tuesday evening. They've made the move through renewal and revival and into the reality of going into their world to reach the lost. The kids they minister to see something in Dawn and her family that they like. They're thankful for this family who spends time with them every week. God's love radiates from Dawn and her family to draw these children. Dawn and her family are being who God asked them to be and doing what he asked them to do.

We can experience more of God, and so can our children. We can have seasons of renewal and revival, and we'll maintain the joy those seasons bring if we're living in reality-being who God created us to be and doing what God has asked us to do.

Jerry Lenz lives in Orlando, Florida, where he develops children's ministry resources and writes kids' music.

Fifteen years ago Jack Hayford wrote, "Children have been too often the victims of revival. It is ironic that a people who worship a Man who said, 'Allow the children to come unto me and do nothing to forbid them,' can inadvertently, in the midst of the glorious working of the Holy Spirit, become as insensitive as we sometimes do."

Hayford went on to describe how multitudes of adults can sit in a main auditorium service delighting in a tremendous occasion filled with praise and worship, accompanied by a sense of Christian success. All the while, in back rooms, children are grossly neglected and packed into undersized rooms.

Many churches are praying for a new season and inviting God to send revival. If you're praying, then prepare now.

1. Protect the lambs. God has made you a shepherd of children. Some churches have moved into awesome times of renewal and revival -- and at the same time they've abandoned good sense when it comes to caring for their little lambs. Know what your priorities are and make sure leadership is in agreement.

2. Build a strong foundation. Problems don't take care of themselves, and there are no shortcuts to children's ministry when renewal and revival explode upon a congregation. Any pre-existing challenges facing the children's ministry are intensified beyond belief. Fix what's wrong now. It won't get "washed away" in a revival river.

3. Don't settle for baby-sitting. Tossing kids in a room and showing them a movie is not revival or renewal for them. It's baby-sitting. It doesn't belong in our ministry on Sunday morning, and it's not part of a genuine move of God either. It works against our children. Decide now how you'll continue to minister to children in times of church renewal and revival.

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