Much of my summer has been spent being surrounded by kids or preparing to be surrounded by kids. What a blessing doing such specific ministry has been to my own life!
I have seen God in the most real and tangible ways I ever have. I tend to get caught up in academically studying the Bible and the person of God, so I have an answer to give anyone who asks about my faith (1 Peter 3:15). I have memorized many verses and am well on my way to having an entire book of the Bible committed to memory. I love arguing personal interpretations of the Bible with my friends at college. I enjoy reading Christian apologetic books and gathering the facts. My dear friends, this has been such a danger to my faith. In all of the knowledge, I lost sight of the Truth. I lost sight of who God is. I lost my sense of awe of my Creator. What a mistake and loss that was. Yet, these kiddos see God with a child-like faith. Father God is so real to them. They love Him so much that they are deeply broken over their sin. I hope and pray that I can see God like this for the remainder of my life.
Kids’ ministry works. I can say this from personal experience. In addition, the statistics are nothing short of astounding. According to a Barna study from 2004, 43% of adult Christians accepted Christ before the age of 13. 64% of the Christians devoted their lives before the age of 18 and 77% before the age of 21. It seems that there are more Christians turning away from the faith by adulthood than there are people converting to Christianity after 21.
Although I am a fan, there have been many times in which I have stopped, taken a step back, and wondered if the whole big production was worth it. The kids’ and youth ministries I have been involved in are FUN. Many of my most memorable times of fun thus far were spent with my church. We do big things like giving free hot air balloon rides or scattering 10,000 Easter eggs across an open lawn for a hunt or bringing in multiple bounce houses for a day camp. It is truly a blast. I am still having fun. Yet, at some point we have to decide if all of this fits into our greater mission of spreading the gospel and making disciples. Being on staff, I am a little less concerned. I think we are in a healthy place. My pastors also stop and question things like this. If God is not being glorified in all we do, they want to stop doing it.
There must be a point in a Christian’s journey in which they find themselves in a valley which is also a crossroads. There are two choices at that place: 1. cling to Jesus 2. leave Him behind. Yet, that decision must be grounded in something deeper than what happens in the moment. The decision for me was not one I second guessed. Why? Because I had grown up with strong Christian parents who made the commitment to take me to church, got me involved in kids’ ministry, then youth ministry, and released me to allow my faith to become my very own. I had grown up grounded.
Today, I am sitting here and now I am blessed to be the one pouring into the lives of children. I am eternally grateful for those along my path who chose to devote their lives to Jesus and spend their lives telling children how valuable they are to their creator, God. I work alongside people who give up their time consistently in hopes that children will come to know Christ as their savior. They deeply believe in something greater than themselves.