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    Director of Children's Ministry
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Follow the Leader: Lessons in Children’s Ministry

Last month I found myself sitting playing plastic game horns with one of our Southwood children, Lyla.  Nothing special you might think, but how the events followed amazed me.  I began to play the horn like a trumpet with a long steady breath at a consistent pitch, while she intently watched me.  I played, she played.  I played once more as she watched me and then she followed suite.  Without a word spoken we both made eye contact, I placed my mouth slowly on the mouthpiece of the horn and she followed doing the exact same thing. I took a breath, and she took a breath.  She then played with me. We did it again, preparing, breathing and playing at the same time.  I said, “Lyla, we’re playing music together.”  We repeated the whole process again without a word, and then she ran to find her Father, exclaiming “Daddy, we’re playing music!”

Without a word spoken, intently watching, Lyla followed me and repeated every detailed movement I made in that moment.  Children are very formable, with hearts that are tender.  Their minds are sponges that absorb every word, every action, everything around them.  They remember details that we might think are insignificant but for whatever reason, they make an impression on a child’s mind and heart.

They grasp all that is around them to learn, understand, pick apart, see how things work.  They need teaching that is accessible, understandable, and most importantly, someone to emulate.  That is our role, to emulate—to teach them the beauty and truth of the gospel.  When we speak truth they speak truth; when we live out the gospel they live out the gospel.  Jesus said it best in Matthew “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belong the kingdom of heaven.”  Children are never too young to begin teaching them about the gospel. 
Children walk away from Sunday morning singing worship songs and talking about the lessons they learned because it has made an impression on them.  Children’s Sunday School is more than just singing songs and teaching stories. It is presenting the gospel in a tangible form in which the children can understand.  The stories and songs connect to Biblical truths which start forming and shaping a child’s heart.

There is a great need for church leaders to be involved in these children’s lives.  Awareness of the importance of these ministries and the congregations involvement is key.  This is not just a babysitting service on a Sunday morning.  We are forming the future leaders of the church.  Every baptism, congregational members make a vow to the parents and one another. “Do you as a congregation undertake the responsibility of assisting the parents in the Christian nurture of this child?”  If the response is in the affirmative, then this vow is not to be taken lightly.  Children need men and women who love the gospel to love them so that they will love the gospel as well. 

The amount of time that a child spends at church is vastly out numbered by the amount of hours that parents spend with their children at home, or the hours that a child spends in school.  Our role, as church leadership, is to come alongside parents as they teach and train their children, raising them in a covenant community.  Thus resourcing and equipping parents are vital for the nurturing and rearing of our covenant children.  

The truth of the gospel is planted in a child’s mind and heart. Once it takes root then children no longer emulate they live it.  Paul once said “Follow me as I follow Christ”.  Children will learn to follow Christ by watching us follow Christ.  If we follow the Leader, they will too.