A Key Component of Effective Children’s and Youth Ministry

The people who have the most access, the best opportunity, and the greatest potential influence—not to mention the biblical responsibility for helping children walk in the truth—are their parents. My plea to parents and grandparents is that they make the most of the fleeting opportunity they have.

The life of a parent today can quickly become consumed by so many good things that there is little time left for what is most important. Parents must not trade the greater things for lesser things.

  • What will it profit a child to be an accomplished pianist but spend his life as a fool?
  • What will it benefit a child to have all the friends in the world— even good Christian friends—but have no friend in Jesus on Judgment day?
  • What good will it do for a child to marry well but never sit at the marriage feast of the lamb?
  • What benefit will there be for the child who makes it to the national championship on his way to destruction?
  • What will it profit a child to gain the whole world and lose his soul? (Mark 8:36)

Imparting the truth to our children is essential and should be the primary focus for the church’s ministries to children and youth. However, the best two hours of children’s programming is no substitute for the passionate and intentional pursuit by parents of everlasting joy for their children. The church is best equipped to encourage, support, challenge, and develop resources for parents in their work of discipling their children.

George Barna, [in his book Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions1, writes that he] asked the churches in his study how they measured suc­cess in their ministry to children and youth. Most, he said, pointed to “growing numbers of students enrolled, consistent attendance, completion of curriculum in the allotted time, parental satisfaction, minimal discipline problems, etc.” However, the most effective churches, Barna observed, identified three very different indicators of success. In summary:

  • Involvement of parents in the spiritual development of their children. The effort to nurture children is deemed deficient if it is not led by the parents themselves, in close partnership with the church.
  • Strategic equipping of parents to help children develop spir­itually. Parents are not naturally skilled at discipling their children. They need the input and training that churches are uniquely called to supply.
  • Tangible evidence of transformation in children’s lives. Par­roting Sunday school facts falls short of the lifestyle changes that testify to a deeper renovation of the heart and spirit.

For some practical help in partnering with parents, click here.


Note: This blog post is an excerpt from “No Greater Joy: Leading the next generations to walk in the truth” by David Michael, a chapter in Indestructible Joy for the Next Generations, edited by David and Sally Michael.

1George Barna, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2003), pages, 109, 110.