Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spiritual Gifts of Children

I once had someone tell me that "kids need to have Jesus in their atmosphere so that when they grow up they can choose to follow Him,  but they weren't really capable of relationship or serving at a young age".  My heart sank when I heard this, and quite honestly, if you have ever served in your church's nursery you know that statement is incorrect.

I have watched for years as children not only absorb information, they display solid faith and exude pure worship. It's no coincidence that Jesus tells us that we need that "child-like faith" to receive Him. (Matthew 18:2-4)

I have also for years watched children display their spiritual gifts. Look closely this Sunday, children as young as two years old will show compassion, leadership, and mercy. As parents we can easily identify them in our children, and often times as ministry leaders we can see them as well.

So what are we doing with this vital information? Do you ever dream and wonder, what are my kids capable of? Am I challenging them spiritually? We as leaders offer up "challenges" of memory verses and other information, but do we really challenge them in their spiritual capability? Are we sharpening their "spiritual gift sword" for use in the kingdom?

As I have been personally reflecting on this question I realized in 2 Chronicles 24:1it is mentioned that Joash was SIX YEARS OLD when he became king! Six! First Grade! I think you get it, he continued his reign for 40 years. What this exactly looked like, well I can't even begin to fathom, but I can tell you that he was a leader. He had older generations around him not only training him up, but entrusting him to lead on his own.  This is where I stopped, while we are embracing family ministry as a culture and investing in our younger generations, I had to ask "are we entrusting them?"

As I sat there looking at the take home pages of family devotions, the memory verse cards, and the curriculum, I came to the realization that we are pouring in (and rightfully so) but are we teaching them what to do with all that input? Are we teaching them that the holy spirit will guide, and stepping back and letting that happen?

So with that in mind, we decided to start with spiritual gifts! In kids church we did a three week series on identifying, using, and sharing spiritual gifts. But it won't just be a lesson! Kids will be given the option to assume ministry tasks based on their spiritual gifts. The desire is to show them hands on that they can have a relationship with Jesus that is full (like adults). To show them that they have something to give, and God has designed them with a purpose.  Giving and serving is a huge part of our spiritual life, and we would be off balance without those elements.

I am an advocate of good material, and quite honestly I found a free online printable curriculum for this series.  I landed on the page with a search and while the page isn't all bright and hi-tech, the content is wonderful! The best part is the fact that all the supplies called for, you probably already have. There were a few changes like milk cartons used for a game, I used cups and cotton balls.

While we may not have a six year old leading our nation any time soon, which may be a better option (well that's another blog post in itself) we can let them lead in places that will equip them to carry the gospel to future generations we will never see. The best part is letting the parents get involved by teaching them what we see in their kids and letting that be nurtured in the home as well.