May I confess something to you? I never really enjoyed doing the children’s sermon when I was a pastor. The kids would come to the front of the worship center and then head to children’s church just a few minutes later—with the children’s sermon in between. I was the pastor, but I was more nervous speaking to the kids than I ever was preaching to adults.
Nevertheless, I would regularly (so, every week) do a children’s sermon if I were pastoring again. Here’s why:
- It forces me to communicate at a child’s level. Never does it hurt a preacher to think about communicating to kids rather than seeking to impress adults with his preaching. If we can’t reach the child with our approach, it’s likely we’re not good at reaching adults, either.
- It invites kids to hang out with me for a few minutes each week. This benefit may be the least recognized one: giving kids an opportunity to spend even five minutes with direct attention from the pastor can change their relationship with him. If they know and trust him, they’ll turn to him later on.
- It gives me an opportunity to learn a few names. Every church member that I shepherd has a name – and I will lead them better if I know their names. I can start that process by learning the names of kids who sit before me during the children’s sermon.
- It requires that I be concise and clear. In just a few minutes, I must tell a story, explain it, and help the kids know how to apply it. Words are at a premium, so I can’t afford to stumble – and I should learn that being concise and clear is just as important when speaking to adults.
- It pushes me to come up with mental pictures and illustrations that will help the children understand. Kids need concrete examples, so I spend time finding the best illustrations to help them get the point. That approach would help me be a better preacher overall.
- It requires that I get on my knees or sit down when speaking to the kids. Maybe I’m the only preacher who wrestles with pride, but it wouldn’t hurt me to put myself in a position of humility once in a while.
- It demands that I help my listeners come up with action plans based on the Word. Children need practical, simple steps to apply the gospel in their lives. So do adults – and in my opinion, it’s the preacher’s job to help them get there.
Pastors, does your church use a children’s sermon? What would you add to this list?
Chuck Lawless is Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Global Theological Education Consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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