I have always held some strong convictions about students and children being viewed as second class citizens in church life. It makes me want to slap people when I hear them say “They are the church of the future.” No, they are the church of today, moron!!! As adults we get so wrapped up into our stuff that we forget that we are shaping future church models by how we treat younger generations.
At LifeQuest we have always been committed to involving students in ministry. We have them play in our worship bands, run our computers, and serve in our children’s ministry regularly. It is awesome to watch a middle school kid sitting with a group of elementary age kids and lead them in a group activity or read to them from the bible.
We have started having middle school boys help out each week in our pre-school class. This past week my son Zach who is in sixth grade was in there to help. I got an e-mail from the teacher telling me how much she enjoyed him helping out and how much the kids responded to his leadership. Awesome!!!
I believe that the earlier we can help students and children see that they are contributors in ministry the more likely we are to help them understand service, sacrifice, calling and purpose. I also believe this will help us to retain them as they go off to college and in their futures. When they are trained to serve at a young age, are appreciated for their service and are valued for their input, I believe it will help keep them connected as they become college students, young adults, and parents of their own. It lays a foundation for future generations of the church.
Leaders, what are you doing to connect young students into ministry? Does it involve having them stack chairs? That is important, but we have to cast a bigger vision. We have to make it memorable. We must make it important in their eyes so that they can see how faith in Christ leads to service in his kingdom. That is what shapes the church of the future.