I don't remember a thing about my 25th birthday. Not who I was with, where I was, how I celebrated. Nada. Nothing.
I do, however, remember the effects of turning 25. Something shifted in me when I realized the word century could now be linked to my age. Granted, I was a mere quarter of the way there—but hey, 100 years is a long time, no matter how you slice and dice it. And being a quarter of a century old certainly got me thinking more long term. What kind of man was I becoming? Was I being a good steward of the gifts and talents God had given me? Was I spending my time and energy on things that truly mattered?
My dad had died earlier that year, leaving behind a remarkable legacy of godliness. Naturally, that prompted me to wonder if I'd follow suit with my own children. Would I pass on the Christ-like characteristics displayed by my father, who gleaned them from his own father?
Simply put, I was growing up.
It's official: Ministry Today has grown up. This issue launches a yearlong celebration of 25 years in print. Normally, silver anniversaries are spent reflecting on wonderful memories, reminiscing now-laughable mishaps and essentially congratulating those involved for being part of something with a degree of longevity. And throughout this year, we'll do all those things.
Yet I can't think of a better way to begin the celebration than by turning the spotlight on those who matter most to every legacy-minded grown-up: children. As hokey as it now sounds, children are our future. But they're also the church's future. For all the progress the global church is making, it will mean nothing if kingdom advance is not furthered by those who will lead 20 and 30 years from now. True leaders not only impart their lifework to the next generation, they also propel those successors to even greater things.
I believe we're on the brink of such a kingdom transition, one in which children will "do even greater things than these" (John 14:12, NIV). I'm joined in that belief by every contributor to this special issue, starting with the International Network of Children's Ministry (INCM), which plays the key role of equipping those who currently lead the church's future leaders. We've partnered with INCM (read more about this trendsetter on p. 26) to echo through every page of this issue the clarion call that children matter.
Need proof? Research guru George Barna pulls no punches in proving why your church must make kids a priority (p. 30). Senior pastor Jerry Dirmann, while launching a new season of various contributors to our "Pastor's Heart" column, also explains how to find spiritual giant-slayers among the smallest and unlikeliest group in your church (p. 100). In addition to those and other can't-miss articles from the likes of veteran children's pastors Becky Fischer and Jim Wideman, our cover story highlighs six churches that are doing kids' ministry differently—and seeing radical kingdom results (p. 58).
After all, isn't that the point? Forget the puppet shows, skits and sing-a-longs, as great and helpful as those may be. At its core, children's ministry is about kingdom matters. It's about nurturing the least of these who will one day grow up to become giants in the faith. Excuse me for being a bit self-congratulatory, but 25 years in the making, Ministry Today continues to be about the very same things.
Marcus Yoars is the editor of Ministry Today.
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Help Charisma stay strong for years to come as we report on life in the Spirit. Become an integral part of Charisma’s work by joining Charisma Media Partners. Click here to keep us strong!
Dr. Mark Rutland's
National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)
The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. Enroll in the FREE Mini-Course to experience Dr. Rutland's training for yourself and then enroll for the full training that will change your life and ministry.
FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.
NICL Training offered in FL, TX and GA - Learn everything you wish someone had taught you about business and ministry before you finished seminary. Gain the knowledge that will help propel your life and ministry to the next level as you implement practical lessons from Dr. Rutland's training. Training Dates and Details.
The NICL Online is a brand new option for those church and ministry leaders who cannot attend the in-person training. Now, you can receive all 60-hours of Dr. Rutland's training from the comfort of your home or ministry for a full year. Learn more about NICL Online.