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Children in Church: A Senior Pastor’s Heart for Including Children

Growth happens when children’s ministry leaders and senior pastors partner together to welcome and celebrate children in their churches. Spiritual growth occurs, and churches may even grow in number! Most importantly, young and old alike have more unique opportunities to grow closer to God and each other. Read on to hear one senior pastor’s heart for including children in church.

God revealed his heart for children in the Bible. Sharing the Gospel from one generation to the next is the Lord’s will (Exodus 3:15). Caring for his “little ones” (Mark 9:37) is an intergenerational concern. God especially desires his church to be intergenerational.

For example, when Joshua led the people of Israel into the Promised Land, God called Joshua to instruct the children with a specific object lesson — a pillar made of 12 stones gathered from the Jordan River and constructed at Gilgal. The Lord called for this object lesson so all generations, and all people, for all times would know the good news (Joshua 4:24).

What can this look like in churches today? How can congregations welcome children in church? Consider these three ways the church of today can grow out from God’s heart for children and intentionally include children in church life.

1. Empower children in church.

One way to do this is to regularly incorporate children into worship services — even children’s services!

I serve as pastor at The Family of Faith Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas. When the preschool children gather for Chapel Time, ministry leaders recruit volunteers from the student body to help offer the service. All the students are five years old or younger. The volunteers lead the congregation in lighting the candles, calling on God’s name as an invocation, leading the prayer time, and leading the pledge. The great sense of accomplishment which the children derive from helping is remarkable.

While children help less in our Sunday morning service, children are still incorporated into the worship service by serving as acolytes (or assistants), participating in the children’s message, and dancing to the final song with praise ribbons. These opportunities allow the whole congregation to see and be served by children in church.

2. Show children in church.

For example, with parents and caregivers’ permission, take pictures of children participating in the life of the church and post them for everyone in your church to see.

At The Family of Faith, one of our church members is a gifted photographer. So this person took pictures (with the proper permission) of children, youth, and adults serving the Lord. These pictures were enlarged and printed on canvas stretched around a wood frame. Finally, the painting-like pictures were hung in a prominent place.

In addition, pictures of children at The Family of Faith are featured around the church building on monitors, as well as on the webpage and in various forms of social media.

Seeing photographs of children in church helps the whole church family develop a sense of affection and investment in the spiritual upbringing of their children.

3. Help children.

Encourage your church family to help children who are in need of assistance. These may be children in your church, community, or around the world!

At The Family of Faith, we partner with a Special Olympics basketball team. The team uses our gym each year for its practice facility. Other partnerships have included efforts with the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the local food pantry, Operation Christmas Child, and mission trips which included ministry efforts with and for children.                                

So perhaps it’s time to meet with your senior pastor and church leadership to talk about how your church regularly and intentionally includes children in church. Together, discuss these questions:

  • How has your church expressed God’s heart for children?
  • How have those expressions of God’s love helped your congregation to grow (in breadth/number, or depth/spiritual insight and understanding)?
  • What can your church do to incorporate and celebrate children more?

Want more insights from senior pastors? Check out 16 Ways for Senior Pastors to Build Relationships With Children.

Pastor Doug Krengel has served for 30 years as an ordained pastor in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. For the last 28 years of his career, Pastor Krengel has served in congregations which offered early childhood education and care. His education background includes a B.A. in Philosophy and English from Concordia University Chicago, a M.Div. from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from CUC. He and his wife, Amy, are the parents of two adult children and grandparents of three grandchildren.

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