“I don’t think they’re getting anything out of the service.” I told my pastor-husband one day after church. I had been wrestling for a few months with the fact that my children were bored during the service. As any parent would, we asked they sit quietly, try to find something out of the sermon that pertained to their life, and if possible take a note or two. “Not too hard” I thought. But for their young hearts, it was frustrating and boring to hear adult illustrations and theological observations that were way over their heads. “What should I do?” I asked the Lord every Sunday as we drove home. “Do I take on another ministry from ground up by creating a kids ministry that engages and teaches at their level or do I teach my own to be appropriate in a service, sit and behave, and wait patiently for the hour to pass?” I wrestled for a while. I was tired of ministry work myself and couldn’t bear the thought of having to prep, organize, staff, and work a new ministry. Besides, what would the staff say if I skirted around the problem of my own PK’s not wanting to go to church. I really just wanted to tell my children to bring a book and read during the service….but God. And that’s where it stopped. I couldn’t fight the voice in my heart that said, “I will teach to your heart if you teach to theirs.” I knew my answer. I had to find a way to teach to my own children’s heart.
It is a tough thing to navigate having our children in ministry. While we fight the urge to impose our heart for God’s work on them, we realize their heart is the center for all decisions and motives. It is essential that we always seek to find the heart lesson in what they are dealing with. What about when that forms a conflict in our role in ministry? What position do we choose? Do we encourage “socially” appropriate behavior and the dos and don’ts of being in a boring service or do we trust God with our time and energy and move forward with emphasizing the heart matters?
I believe it is time to be bold, be Spirit-led, and authentic with our children. Sometimes ministry and teaching the faith to our children can conflict. The bottom line is that the heart matters most! While our desire to do ministry and see His eternal work get done, our children are on loan to us. If we do not boldly and sacrificially teach to their heart, we are not focused on the eternal work most important.
When our children get older, and their faith becomes their own, the transition from our faith to theirs may be bumpy. It is the heart that is the center for all decisions, motives, and desires. Feed it while they are young and they will remember! The heart always matters most!