by Steven J. Adams, adapted from his new book Children’s Ministry on Purpose: A Purpose Driven Approach to Lead Kids Toward Spiritual Health.
Here is how I define a purpose driven children’s ministry:
A purpose driven children’s ministry is an intentional and balanced discipleship process that leads kids toward spiritual health.
There are four key components to this definition, and each of these are covered in my book Children’s Ministry on Purpose:
- Spiritual Health
- A Discipleship Process
There are two features of my definition that warrant a closer look right now. Let’s unpack what it means to say we are “leading kids” and what we mean by “spiritual health.”
- Leading Kids
Leadership is an art of influencing people to follow you to a destination. I say that we are leading kids not to imply a position of power and authority, but to suggest that we are guiding children along their journey—not pushing or pulling them. While we have a clear objective and a specific destination, each child is unique, and their journey will reflect that uniqueness. Children will have questions and experience doubts at each stage of their spiritual development, and it’s important to help kids navigate those questions and doubts as they grow and mature. As we lead them, we want them to know and understand God’s Word, but also to discover how to live out their faith in every arena of their life.
The apostle Paul was leading a group of believers (that sometimes acted like children) on a journey toward spiritual health. He gave them a message in
Paul led them toward spiritual health and maturity, but it was up to the individual to learn and live the truth that Paul taught and exemplified.
We lead kids in the same way. We guide them along a spiritual formation journey by teaching them the Word of God and helping them to navigate honest questions as they process personal doubts and discover how to make it through confusing and discouraging times. As they genuinely act on the truth they have learned, they progress one step at a time in their journey toward spiritual health and becoming a disciple of Christ.
- Spiritual Health Is the Goal
We are leading kids to a destination, and that destination, or goal, is spiritual health. This requires a process of balance and intentionality. The beauty of this journey of spiritual formation is that it culminates in life transformation, which is the pathway to spiritual health. This does not happen by the mere transfer of information or a “believe it because we said it” approach. It is a journey with highly committed Christ followers guiding the kids, one step at a time, along the way.
Physical health will not look the same for everyone. I believe the same is true of our spiritual health. We each have obstacles, struggles, and limitations. Some are the result of our choices; others are the result of matters outside of our control. But no matter what the obstacle is or how it originated, we can be spiritually healthy even if spiritual health looks different for each one of us. Spiritual health is the progressive process of a person reaching their full potential in their growth and development as a disciple of Christ.
We’re all somewhere along our journey toward spiritual health, a journey to becoming spiritually mature. We all need guidance, especially those who are young in the faith. Improvements in spiritual health will not happen without deliberate effort by the disciple, however young they are, and by the leader guiding them.
No matter where they are in their journey, every child has the potential to be spiritually healthy and to continue moving toward the next stage of spiritual health.
A Note on Ministry Growth (and Health)
The growth of your ministry is not as important as the health of your ministry. Our responsibility is not to manufacture growth, but to take the necessary steps to provide a healthy environment. God will make the ministry grow according to his plan. It is for this reason that you cannot judge the health of a ministry on numbers alone. If numbers become the focus of your ministry, you will lose sight of the primary objective, which is health.
By striving for health, your ministry has an opportunity to reach its full potential and grow in the way God wants it to grow.
— Stephen J. Adams, Children’s Ministry on Purpose: A Purpose Driven Approach to Lead Kids Toward Spiritual Health. Pick up the book to learn more about the “balance and intentionality” required to lead kids toward spiritual health.
How to Use This Book
You will discover practical lessons to make a stronger, healthier children’s ministry.
How do you even measure the health of your children’s ministry? This book will give you tools for that. It will also help you discover crucial changes you ought to make, and equip you to put those changes into successful practice.
“For more than twenty years I’ve had the privilege of learning to lead children’s ministry directly from Steve Adams,” writes children’s pastor Randy Isola.
“This book is not theoretical ideas. These are principles and practices I have seen Steve implement over many years of real-life, daily leadership in the local church. I am excited for you to have access to the wisdom and experience that has mentored me for so long. This is an important resource for all of us who are passionate about leading kids and families. Applying what is taught here will lead to stronger, healthier ministries.”