Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
When Bob and I were first married, we owned a duplex in North Minneapolis. Our block was predominantly duplexes with absentee landlords, and there were only a few single-family homes.
During the three years we lived there, we never got to know any of the renters. The renters continually came and went. The neighbors we had a relationship with were the other homeowners. Their investment in the neighborhood was different—seen in the care they gave their homes and us.
I think it works the same way in children’s ministry—we can either serve as “renters” with temporary commitment, or we can invest ourselves as “homeowners” who settle in and make this ministry our own. As part of the Kingdom of God, each of us has important work to do!
When I remember my childhood years in church, a dear Kingdom worker comes to mind: Ruth Brown, my 2nd grade Sunday School teacher. I recall sitting around a rectangle table in a basement classroom listening to Ruth tell Bible stories, such as God Delivers Israel Through Gideon and His 300 Men. I remember her encouragement to memorize Psalm 100.
Growing up, I had several Sunday School teachers—so why do I have such clear memories of Ruth Brown?
Ruth was a close family friend, she had a loving, life-long relationship with me and my family. Because of this, the relationship I had with Ruth caused me to listen differently to the truths she taught in Sunday School. Ruth Brown was a “homeowner”—teaching children the Bible year after year.
While Ruth went home to be with Jesus several years ago, I am remembering her faithful service for the sake of Christ and am thanking God for her afresh today!
A growing number of men and women at Bethlehem are embracing a vision for children’s ministry that goes beyond their initial commitment. Heidi Johnson, Small Group Leader, 2nd grade Sunday School, shares her claim in the work of the Kingdom—
A Hamlet Along the Path
“A hamlet is usually a rural settlement which is too small to be considered a village. ... Historically, when a hamlet became large enough to justify building a church, it was then classified as a village.” (Wikipedia)
I love the beauty of the mountains, but sometimes my journey seems much too slow. I’m torn between hiking the breathtaking, twisting paths … and actually getting somewhere. I’m trying to be content with meeting a lone hiker now and then on the heights, but I want to plant a flag somewhere. Is my path leading anywhere, or am I merely lost in the scenery?
But wait, I’ve come upon a hamlet! I’ve found a little herd of sheep—8-year-old Sunday School children to be exact. I’ve decided to follow my little children up the grades through to graduation. I was going to continue with the second grade class, but, in a moment, my heart changed.
With a few days of prayer, the desire to follow the children through their grades continued strong, steady, and sure (the type of sign I’ve learned to recognize as the leading of the Holy Spirit as opposed to my own excitable heart).
I want to build community with my children. I want to be a friend to them, someone who knows them and who they know loves them. I want to walk through life with them for the next 10 years and beyond, God-willing.
On the final week of Sunday School, I told all the children that I would be moving up to third grade with them. I had been wondering how they would respond. They were so excited! I was thrilled and relieved to see their response.
A little boy from our class who was visiting my small group that day listed each of the grades, asking if I would be moving up with them ... to 3rd grade?—Yep. And then 4th grade?—Yep. And then 5th grade?—Yep. After 12th grade, he said, “and then...there’s nothing after that!”
Bless you, Heidi—your labor in the LORD is not in vain! I wonder what stories of grace will come from the children and their families someday.
I love children’s ministry and want to be about the work of the Kingdom until the day I die—to tell the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done (Psalm 78:4)—that our children might put their hope in Christ.
Do you love God and his Word? Do you love children? Do you love teaching children the Bible—God’s true Word? Do you have a humble, teachable heart? Prayerfully consider serving in children’s ministry—hold a baby, lead a small group, teach the Bible lessons, lead the class in worship, mentor a young adult.
When we invest in the next generation, we are training future leaders who will go out into the world and invest their lives for the sake of Christ.
Come join us!
Coordinator for Training & Classroom Support (Preschool–Grade 8)