Calling the Children
by Hannelore Zimmermann, Champion of Children's Ministries
February 24, 2010: It happened in a Quechua village somewhere in the Peruvian Andes. The church was filled with men, women, youth and children. The program was announced: "Now our sister C. will talk to us on an important topic. Our sister Ana Laura (that’s me) will take the children into the patio so they won’t disturb the program."
We’ve probably all heard these words more than once. In many places all over the world children's ministry is still seen as simply making sure the children are busy during church time. I'm glad to say that this is not an attitude I usually find within SIM. Actually, I'm excited to see how children's ministry has gained importance during the last years, not only in SIM, but also in churches and other organizations. It seems that we are waking up to the fact that children are by definition an unreached people group, and that they have a huge potential to develop.
Having said this, I still would like to challenge us to go even further by asking: "Has children’s ministry become an integral part of what we are and what we do as SIM?" It seems to me that there is still a ways to go. What would it take to mainstream children’s ministry?
For me, part of the answer is to stop “specializing” children’s ministries and think more in terms of family ministry. We need to get away from seeing ministry to children as a separate department in church and move towards making each church a family-friendly church.
This does not mean that we should stop training children’s workers. I see a huge need for even more growth in this area. However, we also need to make the training of parents, as well as the whole church, part of our ministries. Every church member should see children as an important part of their congregation and not only as a group that needs special attention.
It is my hope that one day every ministry within SIM will somehow be related to children’s ministry: women discipled into being loving mothers or aunts that through their lives and words form children in the Word of God; men discipled into being an example of integrity in their homes and taking on their role as spiritual leaders of their families; churches planted where children are not only welcome but actually an important part of the church, participating in the ministries of the church; and compassion ministries become a place where Christians learn how to care for the weak and defenseless in their society (including children), at the same time making a space for “the small ones” to develop their God-given potential.
I love reading what Jesus did when his disciples were busy finding out who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "He called a little child and had him stand among them." (Matt. 18:2) So as we think about our ministries with SIM, why not call the children and have them stand among us?
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Champion: Hannelore Zimmermann
Hannelore Zimmermann has been active in children’s ministry since she was 13, and today she trains children’s workers in the highlands of Peru. Hannelore reminds us, “If we reach the children of today, we can change the world of tomorrow.”
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