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d-MinLife-GivingPurpose ScottTokarWhy a strategic plan, not just random activity, is needed to disciple kids 

In a world of video games, sports, social networking and self-centeredness, it might be easy to overlook this simple reality: Even kids want to know, “What on earth am I here for?” It doesn’t surface as a deep theological discussion, and you rarely have a child come up to you and articulate that question. But kids want to know that their life means something. They want to know that they matter.

I have given my life to helping kids make this connection, to helping them understand they are God’s masterpiece and that God has a specific plan and purpose just for them.

Think about it—what if all our kids embraced this truth at a young age? At Saddleback Kids, we have a simple ministry objective that gives kids the opportunity to know what on earth they are here for. That objective is reflected in our vision statement: “Connecting kids to God and others.”

We connect kids to God (we win them to Christ and grow them spiritually) and we connect kids to others (every kid needs a friend and a mentor). Guess what we call this ministry framework? You guessed it: Purpose Driven Children’s Ministry.

It’s bigger than a curriculum or a methodology or a program. It’s a biblical approach to children’s ministry that creates balance and health. It’s a strategic plan to help kids know why on earth they are here.

Here’s a simple summary of Purpose Driven Children’s Ministry. It’s an intentional discipleship processthat identifies the following key elements: purpose, people, process and pathway. It begins with these four questions:

  •  ?Why do we do what we do (purpose)?
  •  ?Who are we trying to reach (people)?
  •  ?How are we going to accomplish our objectives (process)?
  •  ?What steps are necessary to move these children along on their spiritual journey (pathway)?

When you’ve answered those questions, you can develop the intentional discipleship process that will work in your church context.

But many times it’s all too easy to take the opposite approach of purpose-driven ministry, which is “random activity.” It’s not that the random activity in and of itself is bad. But when it lacks intentionality, we find ourselves working really hard with little to no measurable results.

Consider this question: “Did you maximize the opportunity?” If it was a random activity with no real objective or intent, then I would say you probably did not.

I know this all too well because I have done it. Over the many years I’ve been in children’s ministry, I’ve experienced many events, services and training sessions that had no clear, identifiable purpose. They were random activities. The result was motion with no meaning. That’s why an intentional process works with such great effectiveness—it’s done on purpose.

Here are several reminders that will help along the way as you develop a Purpose Driven Children’s Ministry:

  •  ?Identify a vision statement for your ministry and make sure everything you do points back to that vision.
  •  ?Don’t try to accomplish every one of the five purposes at every service or event. Here is a formula we use: People + Purpose = Pathway.
  •  ?To find the right answers, you must ask the right questions. Give some thought to the four questions previously mentioned, and you’ll begin a new path of discovery for your ministry.

Purpose Driven Children’s Ministry is not a program. It’s an intentional discipleship process that balances the five purposes of the church. I know from experience that this will change your ministry.

Our kids deserve to know the answer to the question, “What on earth am I here for?” 

Be intentional with your discipleship process and give your kids the opportunity to discover their purpose—without more random activity. Make it all count, maximize the opportunities you have with your kids and change the landscape of eternity.


Steve Adams is the children’s pastor at Saddleback Church. He graduated from Evangel University and has served in children’s ministry for more than 25 years. He mentors and speak internationally, educating and encouraging children’s leaders worldwide. He offers free resources to help with your children’s ministry at morethanpuppets.com.

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