If the principal activity of Children’s Ministry is teaching, then this essential work must be tied to our overall goals for children. Teaching with passion is useless if you don’t know WHY you are teaching or have in mind WHAT outcome you desire. To put it another way, teaching that doesn’t elicit true learning ends up just being a lot of wasted air flow with a bunch of noise. What our children need are passionate teachers who teach with Biblically-prescribed purposes.
Lesson Ten: Teach with Purpose
So, what determines the purposes of our teaching? What are the Biblical goals we seek to accomplish in the lives of our children? Since the Bible is our essential content, then the purposes of our teaching must be founded on the purposes of the Word of God in our lives. And that is so beautifully summed up in II Timothy 3;14-17…
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
The apostle Paul is writing to his spiritual son Timothy, instructing him concerning the POWER and PURPOSE of the Word of God. In context, Timothy is charged to not be someone who is deceived and deceives others (vs. 13), but a man of God who is complete and equipped (vs. 17). Isn’t that what we want for all of our covenant children? So here are key principles from this text that defines how to teach with purpose:
1. Be a purposeful example. Paul says something remarkable in verse 14: “continue in what you have learned KNOWING FROM WHOM YOU LEARNED IT.” Timothy learned God’s Word from his Christian grandmother and mother, as well as his covenant parent, Paul. And part of why he came to believe in the Bible and in Jesus was that he trusted his examples! When you teach children, they will automatically look up to you. The question is: To what will they be looking? Purpose to be an example of Christ!
2. Acquaint them with ALL of God’s Word. Timothy became acquainted with the Holy Scriptures from an early age. He could only “continue” in what he learned and believed because he learned it as a child! So, you teach with purpose when you purpose to have your children MEET God’s Word as early as possible. They need to become acquainted with ALL of God’s Word, because ALL of it is God-breathed, and ALL of it is profitable!
3. Always teach Christ. What “sacred writings” did young Timothy learn as a child? Yes, it was the Old Testament! So, learning the stories of the Old Testament, with the power of the Spirit, led Timothy to salvation through faith in Christ! So our purpose in teaching is NOT just to teach ALL of God’s Word. It is to teach Christ IN ALL of God’s Word. You will only teach with purpose if your purpose is to teach Christ. Thus, the ultimate goal of all our teaching is to see children brought to Christ!
4. Reprove, correct, and train. Well, this doesn’t sound like a very loving purpose, does it? But we know that God’s Word plays that purpose in our life. It calls us out in our sinfulness. It calls us to repent, turn away from sin, and turn towards Jesus. It trains us how to live the Christian life. The Word of God is an active force, disciplining believers to become more like Christ. So this is the purpose of the Christian teacher too! We teach in ways that rebukes sinners, corrects sinful patterns, and train in all righteousness. This moves us beyond simply looking for a knowledge of God’s Word in children, to seeing it change lives.
5. Connect faith to action. This remarkably educational text ends with yet another purpose statement: That the man of God be complete, equipped for every good work. Teachers of God’s Word don’t just share information; we equip the next generation. We are not satisfied with children who just have good Bible knowledge. Instead, we must be driven by the desire to enable young people to live in this world AND to do good in this world! So, teach with the purpose of always connecting belief in Jesus with faithful action. We teach children to love God, love His Word, and love other people!
So, what’s the point? That’s exactly what we want all of our children’s ministry teachers to know! Our teaching can never be pointless. Our purposes must always be in full view, keeping us focused on why we do what we do. There is nothing greater that we can do in children’s ministry than to purposefully teach children Christ as we teach them ALL of God’s Word!