Jesus is primary. He is primary for anyone’s life, especially any ‘ministry.’ Don’t assume him; rather, know, trust, believe, and follow him. This is life or death for ministry as it is life or death for our souls. We are not the walking dead; rather, we are Christian - one walking alive until death to live with him forever.
Christian means Christ-centered or Christ follower. We follow the Christ of Christianity. We follow the Christ of scripture (the Bible). We follow the Jewish man of the New Testament who claimed to be the promised one (Christ, Messiah) of the Old Testament. We follow the human man named Jesus that claimed to be ‘the Christ.’ We follow Jesus who is not just human but also fully divine. We follow Jesus also known as Immanuel – God with us. We follow Jesus, the one who was sent by God the Father to save the world from sin and Satan. We follow Jesus, the righteous atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. We follow him, the God-man, Jesus.
“But that’s not practical,” many say. I ask, “Why?”
Is practical to mean budgets, calendar schedules, events, email communication, texting via mobile devices, IT, cash flow, accounts payable, payroll, fundraising, 501c3 requirements, classroom sizes, number of desks and chairs, attendance keeping, security, safety, cleaning solutions, teaching methods, teaching objects, training manuals, themes, booklets, assignments, literature, curriculum, location, logos, brands, rules, policies, outreach, meetings, meetings, coffee, meetings, and more meetings? Really? That’s practical? That’s what ministry is? Ministry is management of the practical? This practical sounds more complex than Jesus.
Remember, what is practical always is or eventually becomes primary, because the practical is always the squeaky wheel of life, always in front of us calling our attention, or the tyranny of the urgent. Practical is what we spend the most time, attention, and detail on. Practical is what parents, kids, outsiders, neighbors, strangers, and enemies see.
Is that what you or I called and commanded to do - to make disciples of the practical? To make disciples of an organization’s brand or culture? To make disciples of the fruit of our labor – a beautiful looking, organized, and managed classroom? To make disciples of faithful attendance and giving?
Who are we making disciples of?
Practical is truly not practical; rather, what we normally mean by practical is avoidance and omission of the primary or committing improper stewardship of tasks, treasures, and talents.
For example, would my own children want my house or their daddy and mommy if they had to choose? They want their parents because their parents want them. Daddy’s house doesn’t want them since it’s a thing. The true value of the house to a child or even a parent is not cash value, estimate, or sales price. The value of the house comes by the love of the parents to the children.
Yes, we take care of the house. We do chores together. But we are not slaves to it or try not to be. They have some toys, but not all toys. We love our children and use things as needed and helpful for daily living. Our children are left to know that their parents love them more than things. A fire can destroy a house and things, but never love. And, true love is truth filled.
We didn’t need a house or an apartment to be a family, but it helps our family. You don’t need buildings, cash, etc. to be a local church family, but it helps our local church family. When there is genuine, heart-felt, truth filled love in the midst of people, you find a gem of a community in this rough world on fire (figurative to mean evil, trials, suffering, afflictions).
Therefore, a local church family loves Jesus, not the tasks or stuff, and kids certainly know it.
Dig into Jesus. Study the Bible. Pray and seek wisdom from above. Listen to wise counselors from dead Christian authors or current and living Christians who hold him near and dear. Learn the complexities that build the simple truth of him. Do not hide truth from people, especially kids. Do not drown Jesus out by the tasks and stuff. Do not use Jesus as a means to your ministry, vision-strategy end. Do not replace Jesus with hip, hop, and hype. Do not replace him with pietistic somber. Do not synchronize Jesus with the world. Rather, love him.
And what we love will be what we teach - explain, exhort, expose, reveal, unravel, focus, give attention to, be enthralled by, speak of, and communicate clearly about!
Allow the truth of Jesus to transform you to be Christian, which makes the best foundation for kid’s ministry. Without Jesus and without a transformed heart, worldview, and life, then all we have is a person expounding ignorance or negligence to kids. With Jesus and transformation, we have a Christian making disciples of Jesus with truth filled love.