There are four ways that the gospel shapes our goals for children's ministry. I read those four ways in the way that Paul ministered to the church in Corinth. The Corinthians were fooled into thinking that glory was rooted in perfection and ministry excellence, but Paul saw something different. This is what he wrote. He said, “Therefore, as it's written, let the one who boasts boast in the Lord. And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom. As I proclaim to you, the testimony about God for I resolve to know nothing while I was with you, except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power.”
So here are the four ways that this gospel conviction that Paul has shapes our children's ministry.
1. Gospel-Seasoned Hospitality
First, it gives us gospel-seasoned hospitality. We don't come boasting in ourselves and the greatness of our ministry, but boasting in God. And that leads us to a humility that allows us to get down on a kid's level and welcome them in Jesus's name.
2. Gospel-Centered Teaching
After gospel-seasoned hospitality is gospel-centered teaching. Paul said, “When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom for I resolve to know nothing while I was with you, except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” He preached the cross. He said, Jesus is going to be the center of our message, all of our teaching.
We have that same confidence for the next generation—that the Holy Spirit is at work in them.
3. Gospel-Formed Discipleship
Third is gospel-formed discipleship. Paul had a confidence that those to whom he was proclaiming the gospel didn't just need the message of the cross, but they needed lives that were shaped like the cross. And he had confidence that the Spirit would work in them to bring them to that end.
And we have that same confidence for the next generation—that the Holy Spirit is at work in them, not just so that they know the gospel message in their heads, but that it's in their hearts and in the way they live so they're shaped by that story.
4. Gospel-Fueled Mission
And finally, that whole mission of children's ministry is a gospel-fueled mission. As we send kids and families out into the world and they minister even to the next generation that's coming after them, we know that this is based in God's power. Their faith rests in the power of God. It's his good news that fuels that mission as we proclaim the gospel from generation to generation.
Jared Kennedy is the author of Keeping Your Children’s Ministry on Mission: Practical Strategies for Discipling the Next Generation.
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