If you have been leading in kid’s ministry for any length of time you know that one of the things that is most challenging is the fact that you cannot be in control over everything that is being taught in each individual classroom. When I came from youth ministry to kid’s ministry I realized very quickly that I was no longer the primary voice that taught the Gospel to our children. In kid’s ministry, you have to rely on other people, mainly volunteers to teach the truths of the Gospel to the kid’s in your ministry. As pastors and leaders of our kid’s ministries, there is a healthy, God-given, responsibility that we should feel to make sure that in our ministries the Gospel is being preached faithfully and purely. Knowing that one day we will give an account for how we stewarded the ministry God has entrusted us with (Heb. 13:17). The question that every kid’s ministry leader or pastor must face is how do I create Gospel fluency in my kid’s ministry? How do I help equip my volunteers so that they can grow in a deeper understanding of the Gospel so that behavior modification or legalism does not get taught in our ministries?
1. Pray that God would continually deepen your understanding of the Gospel by His Grace
The Gospel is not an event that we experience rather it is the way in which we see everything in our lives. We do not move on from the Gospel on to bigger and better things but are constantly reminding ourselves of it and growing by God’s grace in a deeper understanding of it. I love the way that C.S. Lewis depicts this in his book Prince Caspian:
“Aslan, Aslan. Dear Aslan,” sobbed Lucy. “At last.”
The great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half sitting and half lying between his front paws. He bent forward and just touched her nose with his tongue. His warm breath came all around her. She gazed up into the large wise face.
“Welcome, child,” he said.
“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
The more we experience life and the more we grow in our understanding of Christ the bigger He becomes in our lives, not because He has changed but because of His grace to change our hearts. Creating Gospel fluency starts with you as the leader recognizing and confessing that you need the Gospel just as much as your volunteers do and just as much as the kids you teach do.
2. Consider switching to a Christ-centered curriculum that teaches the grand narrative of Scripture
The more you can help your volunteers understand the Gospel through the curriculum you use the better. It is the thing that as they prep they are using the most to shape their thoughts about the lesson they are teaching. There are no perfect curriculums that do everything perfectly. With that being said you have to determine what is most important to you in your ministry as you choose a curriculum. For us, the Gospel trumps flashy videos every time because it is the only thing in the end that will last and bring true heart transformation. Also as equally important to a Christ-centered curriculum is one that teaches the Bible in the context of Scripture. John Stonestreet says it best in his book A Practical Guide to Culture:
“Unfortunately, many kids are taught the Bible not as the Story of reality but only as a disconnected set of stories, verses, and lessons to be taken randomly at will, distanced from their context, and applied to our lives as we see fit. This “moral McNugget” approach to reading and teaching Scripture, as Philip Yancey calls it, not only treats the Bible as something less than it is but fails to provide the framework of who we are according to God. As a result, robust, framing biblical truths are reduced to virtual Post-it notes that decorate a generation whose identities, morality, and purposes are being shaped by culture, not Christ.” – John Stonestreet
3. Provide opportunities for volunteers to reflect on their teaching
Reflection is a key part of the Christian life that I don’t think is exercised enough. Partly because it forces us to see our flaws, to see that we don’t do everything perfectly and there are some things that are out of our control. The beauty of the gospel though is that through our flaws and failure God still uses us and loves us and is continually changing our hearts through the working of the Holy Spirit. A practical way you can provide an opportunity for your volunteers to reflect on if they are teaching the Gospel in their classes is by providing a checklist to help them examine the four characteristics that create a Gospel-centered environment taken from the book Show Them Jesus.
[ ] I acknowledged our struggle with sin (including my own)
[ ] I built up kids’ confidence in Christ, not in themselves
[ ] I celebrated and modeled the freeness of all God gives
[ ] I gave credit to God (not to the kid) for growth I noticed in kids’ lives
[ ] I addressed heart attitudes rather than coercing outward behavior
[ ] I urged both rule-breakers and rule-keepers to trust Jesus rather than their behavior
Delighted with Jesus
[ ] I treated nothing as more enjoyable than Jesus
[ ] I valued connecting to Jesus through prayer, worship, and the Bible
Print this checklist out and provide it for your teachers. Don’t use it as a mandatory thing or even something that they have to share with you if they don’t want to. Use it as a tool to help them grow and to reflect on what Christ is doing in their own hearts as He grows and challenges them in their understanding of the Gospel.
4. Have your teachers teach you
There are different ways you can do this. One way I try to do but doesn’t always work is just by sitting in on a class and listening to the teacher teach. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t with the craziness and unpredictability of a weekend service. Another way you can do this is by creating a google form and providing a story for your teachers. Ask them some key questions such as how do you see Christ in this story? What are the heart issues that the Bible is after in this story? How does this story lead us to trust Christ more and ourselves less? Let your teachers teach you and provide feedback as needed.
5. Pray and remember God’s faithfulness
Prayer reminds us that the ultimate way that our teachers can come to a better understanding of the Gospel is by God’s grace alone. Yes, there are practical things that we can do and implement to help and provide resources. The tension must always be held to remember that doing things will never produce heart change, it is only by God’s grace (Eph. 2:8-9). So pray for your ministry, pray for your volunteers, pray for the Gospel to take root in the hearts of every kid and every teacher and let your request be made known to God (Phil. 4:6). God is faithful and He loves His church more than we do. He has promised to build it on the rock that will never move and never fail, our cornerstone, Jesus Christ (Matt. 16:18).