Questions. As a children’s pastor, it seems that there are always questions. Questions from parents. Questions from staff. Questions from leadership. Questions from children. Many questions from children.
Questions can be perplexing, but often the most difficult questions come from my own mind: Should we change curriculum this year? What time should we start our programming? And on it goes.
This year a question came to mind not long after the celebration of New Year’s Eve: What should I give the “Wednesday Kids Night” students for Valentine’s Day? Chocolate hearts are good, but not all students like chocolate. Not to mention, chocolate melts in your hands and pockets, and it’s not a great snack to give children at 8:00 p.m.
This question may not seem important from the outset, but here is why it is: I have the privilege of seeing 50 to 80 students but only a few minutes a week and usually in a large group setting. I have to make every moment count! This year my decision for their Valentine’s gift would, in part, be sharing the greatest gift of love ever—God’s love to the world.
During our 15-minute Children’s Worship Time I shared how Jesus came to earth as a baby and how he grew and lived until it was his time to give his love to us—to give his life and die for us—to pay the debt for our sins. Then, I pulled a red wristband out of my pocket. On the band was printed John 3:16.
I gave one to each student, with the option to wear it or give it away. The goal was to see if anyone would ask them during the school day, “Hey, what’s that wristband say?” If they were asked, it was a wide-open door for them to be able to share about Jesus’ love for them.
The next Wednesday night a student came to me after Worship Time and said, “Hey, Miss Bev, guess what?”
“What? Did someone ask you about your wristband?” I said.
“Nope,” she replied, “but I told them anyhow!”
Wow! Talk about boldness to witness.
A month later a schoolteacher caught me and told me how good it was to see the red wristbands students were wearing at school. I related to this teacher what one of the students had done. She laughed.
“I know,” she said, “I was that person!”
Teaching children is full of surprises, smiles and blessings. One thing teaching children is not—babysitting.
Barna research has shown that nearly half of Americans that accept Jesus as their Savior do so before reaching the age of 13. When I saw that statistic the first time, I thought to myself, “I really wonder how true that is?” So, I tried it out at our Children’s Ministry Teaching Team meeting. I was amazed to see the show of hands to the question of how old they were when they accepted Jesus as their Savior. The research proved itself to be true in that room.
During my 14 years of teaching children nursery through the 6th grade at Hillsboro MB Church, I have become increasingly passionate about not wasting time that we have with children on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Children come excited and thirsty to hear God’s Word. Let’s not be deceived to think kids want hype, constant games and stimulation. They are coming for what the “world” can’t give them—Jesus’ love, God’s truth, caring relationships, hope.
Children’s ministry is a huge call for evangelism and discipleship. Thank you to all who have answered his call.
Bev Vogel has been pastor of children and family ministries at Hillsboro MB Church, Hillsboro, Kansas, since 2006. She is a graduate of Tabor College where she earned a degree in business education and taught business education classes and coached girls basketball at Central Christian High School in Hutchinson, Kansas. She also holds a certificate of counseling from the American Association of Christian Counselors. Vogel and her husband, Brad, moved to Hillsboro in 1997. They have two married sons and four grandchildren.