Kids Can Serve God Too!
Read through the key Bible passages on spiritual gifts and you will discover that spiritual gifts are not age-based. There are no exemption clauses apart from being a true Christian.
Every believer, including children, has at least one spiritual gift.
---- See 1 Corinthians 12:7, 18; 1 Peter 4:10. ----
In young believers, such as children, these gifts are not always evidenced or developed because of where they are in their life experience. If given a spiritual gifts test, for many the results will be inconclusive. That, however, does not mean that they do not possess gifts. What it does mean, is that they need our help to see who they are in Christ and to help them identify and develop that which He has given to them. We need to provide them with the tools to discover their spiritual gifts and a means to mature in the use of their gifts.
Tools to Help Children Learn to Serve God Using Their Spiritual Gifts:
You may want to implement the following ideas before considering the use of a spiritual gifts test with children since their experience-base is so limited.
Provide teaching about spiritual gifts and God's design for the church.
Help young people to understand God's purposes for the church and for their lives which include serving in His church. Help them realize that they have a part to do right now, not just when they are older.
Provide opportunities for children to serve.
Children need to develop a base of experience in ministry so they can begin to identify how they may be gifted. Encourage them to get involved in a variety of ways. Offer a consistent diet of ministry opportunities. Involve them, as you can, in the various aspects of total church life where they can work side by side with adults. Suggest that families serve together as teams. God will use these opportunities to grow passions within their hearts and to surface and develop their spiritual gifts.
Be careful, in the process, that you do not use coercion or a reward system to get them involved. They need to learn to serve out of love and obedience. They need to understand that serving is a worthy enough calling in itself that they do not need to be bribed in order to do it.
- Allow children and youth to plan and lead their own programs, under supervision, of course. Soon you will see the leaders and teachers emerge among them.
- Take them on ministry field trips to nursing homes, children's hospitals, and the like, and soon you will see those with the gift of mercy blossom.
- Get them involved in work days around the church and soon you will see children with the gift of service looking for work.
- Make them a part of your short-term mission trips and soon you will hear some answer the call to be a missionary or evangelist.
- Seek volunteers among them to be nursery workers and soon you will see children with the gift of helps offering their services on their own.
Provide children with affirmation and feedback.
When Jesus sent out his disciples to minister, He took the time to discuss how it went with them. Why would we do any less with the children and youth whom we deploy into ministry of any kind? First, they should be included in training opportunities. Second, they should be affirmed in what they are doing. If there seems to be an area in which they do particularly well, tell them. Third, provide feedback afterward. Evaluate with them what happened, both the positive and the negative. Offer suggestions on how they might improve. Or, if they just don't seem to be suited for a particular type of ministry, help them find something that may be a better fit.
Provide these young believers with role models.
Adults ought to be setting a good example for the kids. So many adults, however, do not do their part. This can send a strong message to them contradicting all your verbal teaching about why they should get involved. If you expect young people to get it, you better work at making sure the adults get it.
Provide prayer support.
Develop a prayer base for the children and youth of your church that goes beyond praying for only the troubled ones. Pray also for those who seem to be doing well and who want to be a part. They need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit in whatever they do for Him just as much as an adult does. The last thing we want to do is grow kids who are self-sufficient and self-reliant in their Christian walks. We do not want them to start their life of service learning to do it in the flesh. Both their motivations and means of serving need to be an outgrowth of abiding in Christ who said "apart from Me you can do nothing." Following are some suggested prayer topics which can be personalized:
- Pray that the teaching ministry to your children goes beyond mere head knowledge and generates into a real love for the Lord which in turn translates into a true desire to serve Him.
- Pray that the church is willing to involve young people in ministry in ways that contribute to the work of God in your midst. Pray that the leaders of the different ministries in your church have wisdom to see how young people can help and communicate through both words and actions that they want children and youth to be a part.
- Pray God will use opportunities to serve in even small ways to grow a passion within their hearts to follow His purposes in their lives.
- Pray they will learn early in life how God has equipped them to serve and that they will follow His design in their lives.
- Pray they will learn the balance of sitting at Jesus' feet and serving.
- Pray for their walk with the Lord.