The one thing children need most


Outside of the pulpit, there few areas of ministry that ought to be more closely guarded—and highly valued—than children’s ministry.

Yet it seems to be the exact opposite in so many ways:

  • Many curriculum options teach mere morality tales instead of the gospel.
  • Some who are particularly keen to serve suddenly have a lot less time on their hands once they find out the area of greatest need is working with children.
  • Others who do serve act as though kids ministry is a glorified babysitting service, rather than an opportunity to make disciples.

It’s like we’ve forgotten that children need all the same things we do in order to grow—and sometimes in greater abundance! But we must remember the command Jesus gave to Peter, to feed his lambs (John 21:15). Just as Peter was, we are commanded to instruct people in the faith, to teach them the truth, to “feed” them from God’s inspired word.

And that includes children.

In his book, Come Ye Children, Charles Spurgeon wrote of the necessity of feeding Christian children—and feeding them abundantly. He wrote:

Christian children mainly need to be taught the doctrine, precept, and life of the gospel: they require to have Divine truth put before them clearly and forcibly[1. This is not to be confused with coercion. Rather, we are simply to teach convincingly and compellingly.] … Teach the little ones the whole truth and nothing but the truth; for instruction is the great want of the child’s nature. A child has not only to live as you and I have, but also to grow; hence he has double need of food. When fathers say of their boys, “What appetites they have!” they should remember that we also would have great appetites if we had not only to keep the machinery going, but to enlarge it at the same time. Children in grace have to grow, rising to greater capacity in knowing, being, doing, and feeling, and to greater power from God; therefore above all things they must be fed.

Children need the truth in order to grow, just as much as we do—and there is no doctrine that should be excluded from their understanding. They need to know about how God judges the world, and how he demonstrates his love through the sending of his Son Jesus to die for us. They need to know that all stand before God guilty of sin, and only Jesus can take it away. They need to know that Jesus is coming back to judge the living and the dead, and bring about the new creation. They need to know that God sends his Spirit to live within all who believe, giving them new life and desires that please God. They need all these and many more besides.

Whether they realize the need or not isn’t the point. Whether they respond right away or not doesn’t matter. Whether they think it’s boring or not is immaterial. Just as children need healthy food in order to grow physically, they need sound teaching to grow spiritually. So teach “the little ones the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” as Spurgeon wrote. For they have no greater need than this.

photo credit: IMG_0343b via photopin (license). Designed with Canva.

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books for adults and children, as well as multiple documentaries and Bible studies. His latest book, I'm a Christian—Now What?: A Guide to Your New Life with Christ is available now.