A Childhood Memory
It was late at night – or at least my impression of late as a child – when Dad pointed out the last little bit of spackling that needed to be done on the walls. We were remodeling an old storage building into a dining hall for the church that Dad pastored. Only these last few holes separated us from going home.
Except there was also a whole junk pile on the floor underneath this section. Dad looked around. “I know what we can do. Lauren, come here.”
He showed me how to use the putty knife to force a dab of spackling into the hole. Then, he taught me how to wipe it smooth with a paper towel. Then he braced a piece of lumber over top of the skeleton of an old shelving unit. As he hoisted me on top of this, he explained, “You’re the only one light enough to stand on this.”
It was a turning point in my career as pastor’s daughter. While most people probably don’t think of construction sites when they try to think of ways that children can serve others, that volunteer mission site was the first time I remember helping in some form of ministry.
Dad never introduced his family simply as his wife, his son, and his daughter. Instead, he always introduced us as his team. It was brilliant. I internalized from a very early age that Christians minister to others and that I had a place in my Dad’s ministry.
From friending every child that entered into the church building, to sweeping sawdust up at construction sites, to moving chairs for Sunday Night worship, I knew that I was doing something valuable that would play a part in reaching others.
So why am I sharing this with you? I promise, it’s not to toot my own horn or Dad’s horn. It’s to tell you something very important.
There’s a Place for Children in Ministry
As mothers in young families, I think it’s very tempting to think that we’ll become a hindrance in outreach situations. While it can be difficult, we should never let our children become an excuse to stop us from doing something that God laid on our hearts. In fact, we can even include them in serving others.
Ministry Can Be Messy, and That’s Okay
We may think, “There’s no room at VBS for a crying baby.” However, let’s flip that around to, “What is wrong with a crying baby at VBS?”
I am convinced of this fact: that we feel a need to make ministry opportunities as polished as possible. We hesitate to get involved when we doubt our own ability to keep things perfectly controlled. But the secret is that all ministry gets messy and out-of-control anyways. So why are we so afraid to bring our own mess of a wild child to the mission field?
Crying babies can be handled. Children covered in paint can be washed. Ministry can be messy and chaotic, and that’s okay.
Children Can Work Out Their Faith, Too
I was a teenager when my parents came back from Wal*Mart laughing one night. The cause? They watched a Hispanic Pastor’s eight-year-old granddaughter chase a prospective member down to hand him a tract. As the granddaughter’s summer camp counselor, I knew how passionate she could be. I laughed at the image of a bewildered man taking the tract from her. But then I realized how cool it would be for this girl to one day look back and think, “I did something that adults struggle to do. I shared my faith.”
When I was a child, I may not have passed out tracts. However, I frequently extended Sunday School Lessons into real-world application when I mediated trouble among the church kids. I also knew the ‘behind-the-scenes’ world of hard work that went into every event the Church orchestrated.
I can also remember the times that my friends joined me on mission sites. They willingly jumped in to assist with whatever they were asked to do. There are lots of things that children can do on all kinds of ministry sites.
Benefits of Serving Others as Children
It Grows the Faith
I sometimes wonder, “What would my faith be like if I hadn’t been given these opportunities as a child?”
I know without a doubt that my faith would look very different without the small stepping stones that taught me so much. My faith grew because I learned to step out of my comfort zone. I learned to listen for God’s guidance in my life. I learned to own my faith instead of just labeling myself a Christian.
And it all started with a small girl standing on a thin piece of wood spackling a wall…
I also have many unique memories of time spent with my family that I can’t imagine not having. Ministry is something that we did together. And, while others may remember the great vacations they took, I’ll never forget those times that my family could say, “Did you see how amazing God was today?”
Do children have a place in outreach? Without a doubt, I say, “Yes!”
The tasks may be small and may feel important, but there are so many ways that children can – and probably should – be involved in serving others. So the question becomes, “What’s stopping you?”
About the Author:
Lauren C. Moye is a wife, mother, and writer, but in a former life she was a Pastor’s Kid. When she’s not chasing a toddler or tripping over a cat, she’s usually writing. The majority of her work appears on www.chaoticlifeoflauren.com, where she helps busy Christian mothers manage life.
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