In the lead up to this past year’s Ministers Conference, the Lord really put on my heart to work with the children to lift their sights as to how they could be ministers. As a father, I certainly did not want to put something upon the children that they could not do. On the other hand, children are always looking up at what those older than them are doing. That is an important part of how they grow. So, I prayerfully sought the Lord about how He would have me approach this matter.
At our conferences, folks usually show up a day or two before we “officially” begin. It gives everyone a chance to get settled, old friends to enjoy one another’s company and lots of time for the children to play. We always have a regular Sunday service as well so we get the chance to praise the Lord together and the Lord usually uses that time to lay out what the focus will be for that particular year’s conference. This year, I took the time to ask the children whether they wanted to learn how to be ministers themselves. With eyes alight at the very idea, they all answered with a resounding yes! Wow, I thought, who would have known? Praise the Lord! Let’s see where the Lord takes this.
So, on Monday afternoon, we started. I planned on maybe an hour and had pulled together some Biblical accounts of children ministering to go over with the children. Quickly it became apparent that the children’s enthusiasm, as expressed in their participation, far exceeded that which I had anticipated. Every day of the week our meetings lasted close to 2 hours with children ranging from 5 to 13 years of age.
Each day we began by reading some Biblical account of a child ministering. My personal favorite was the story of Samuel as a child because you see Samuel
worshipping the Lord from the time that he was weaned (I Samuel 1:28),
choosing to serve the Lord faithfully, rather than the path of Eli’s sons (I Samuel 2:11-26), and
learning, in his submission to the authority the Lord had set over him (Eli, the High Priest), how to serve the Lord faithfully even though the one he was serving was not faithful himself.
As the children read these stories to me and we discussed them, the children rose up with a seemingly infinite number of personal stories that related (for the most part) to the subject matter in practical ways! Sometimes it was examples of faithfully (or not so faithfully) attending to family chores or school work. Other times, they shared about struggles or triumphs in following the Golden Rule or obeying their parents. Still other times, they gave testimonies (both good and bad) relating to their play, willingness to help one another and the like. All were engaged and participating and the children were excited to “see” how they could be ministers in their daily lives.
Since the Conference, we have built upon the foundation that was laid. Some local fellowships now hold regular weekly Bible studies with the children. (This is in addition to the Bible readings many do as a family.) At the ranch, where I continue to meet with the children weekly, I am pleased to report that the children have asked me if they can research topics and lead Bible studies themselves. Once again, and not to my credit, I was surprised. But I happily consented.
Just last night a ten year old child did a Bible study on how God redeemed things that people did that were wrong for good. She spoke of how God redeemed Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery for good when He used Joseph’s position in Egypt to save them all and fulfill the prophecies given to Abraham and the dreams he had as a child. She also spoke of how God redeemed King David’s wrongdoing in committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband (who was David’s faithful servant Urijah), when He set the fruit of that union, Solomon, on the throne in honor of Urijah and endowed him with wisdom above all men before and since.
Jesus said suffer the little children to come unto me. In our ministry, we have always embraced children being present with their parents in meetings, just like you see in Jesus’ ministry. Now, we can see that what the Lord intended is far richer than even that! May the Lord continue to exceed abundantly above all that I could ask or think in blessing the children and raising them up to take their places in His service.