As a relatively young guy who was raised in the church, I still have pretty fresh in my mind some of my “childhood experiences” in children’s ministry. I remember a lot of lame teaching by the adults who didn’t really know what they were talking about (or at least they didn’t care what they were talking about), and I remember some good teaching from others who not only knew what they were talking about, but they were also passionate about it. Unfortunately for me, I don’t remember too many of the second kind of teacher; but my point is that I could tell the difference between those who were just “doing the children’s church thing” and those who really took their role as “teacher” seriously.
After children’s ministry, I went into youth until I was old enough to refuse to go to church altogether. I strayed away from the faith and lived a life of sin from the time I was in 6th grade until I was 22. Now I’m saved, and I love Jesus and love His word with all my heart. I give my life to study, and I try to share what I learn with whoever will hear me. Since my conversion, God has opened several doors for me to be able to teach the bible to people of all ages, including the fifth and sixth graders of TWCC.
Looking back on my childhood experiences in children’s ministry, I was saddened to realize that I grew up in church my whole life without ever really learning the basics of Christianity. I knew that “Father Abraham had many sons” and that the “B.I.B.L.E. was the book for me”, but I didn’t know the essentials of the Christian faith.
When I was met with the opportunity to be able to teach the 5th and 6th graders of TWCC, I was extremely honored and excited. I was also very humbled because two scriptures came to mind:
“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1)
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)
If that doesn’t humble you as someone who teaches (especially someone who teaches children), I don’t know what else will. I know and realize that as someone who teaches the word of God, I have an obligation to know and present truth to those I speak to. I will be judged stricter for everything I teach; therefore I don’t take the role of “teacher” lightly.
Some people understand the severity of teaching the word of God, but for some reason it’s not seen as that big of a deal to teach children. However Jesus Himself said that if “anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea”. That’s pretty extreme!
As a teacher, I have the ability to equip or destroy. I have the ability to build up, or tear down. I have the ability to stir up faith, or raise doubt. If I say anything to cause one of the children that I teach to stumble, Jesus takes it very seriously. Therefore teaching children is no small task. It’s serious, it’s humbling, and it’s a great honor to be entrusted with.
Like I said, since my conversion God has opened several doors for me to be able to teach. Anytime I teach I put in a lot of study, prayer and preparation. I put in the same time and energy into teaching children.
Ephesians 4:11-12 says that Jesus Himself gave teachers to the church “to equip His people for works of service…” That includes His young people. When I go into the classroom on Sunday to teach the 5th and 6thgraders of TWCC, I go in with the purpose of equipping them for works of service. Not that “some day” they would be able to share Christ with people, but that they would be able to lead their friends and classmates to Christ today. I validate them as saints, and as co-laborers in Christ and I hold them to the same standard as I do everyone else God grants me the opportunity to teach.
My hope and prayer is that the truths I teach these kids would stick with them for the rest of their lives, and that they’d be equipped to share their faith today. My hope and prayer for you is that if you’re someone who has this great responsibility and opportunity to teach the next generation of soul winners, you would take it seriously and do it purposefully.