Pick any typical evangelical church in America on any given Sunday. Walk down the halls where the youngest of children are fluttering about: some crying, some playing, and some deep in thought about that morning's Bible lesson. Peek into the individual classrooms. See the babies being rocked, toddlers stumbling around, and the preschool kids singing worship songs. Then amidst all the sweet busyness of the children's ministry, ask yourself one painfully obvious question: where are all the men?
Perhaps it's become too commonplace in today's churches. When it comes to teaching and caring for the little ones at church, the task is burdened by mostly women. But does that really matter? Why should men serve in children's ministry anyway? Here are five good reasons...
1) Children's ministry is always evolving, but will never go away. As the local church spins through its seasons of ministry, many programs come and go. One of the true constants inside the church walls is the children's ministry. A 2010 Barna study showed that 37% of new parents reconnect to the church after having kids. They become more active, meaning the need for someone to take care of their little ones increases. Decades ago a family would have brought their children into the main service with them to sit through a sermon they likely weren't getting much out of except for a brief sermonette from the head pastor. Here, in 2015, children have entire wings of church buildings dedicated strictly to them and their various needs. Children's ministry has become high energy, interactive, loud, and occasionally messy. Men can play a critical role in not only embracing the more intentional forms of children's ministry, but taking part in it. That may mean teaching lessons, playing games, or role playing as a Bible character. These days, few things are off limits when it comes to reaching the little ones in the church.
2) Offer a different view on feminism. No longer just a buzzword for liberals, feminism is entrenched in the church like never before. The push for women in pulpits and serving as deacons and elders has reached new heights. However, when it comes to the kids of the church, there is opportunity for men to recognize feminism in a different way. While women converse over the intriguing idea of holding their place as pastors in the church, men can, in turn, show their willingness to take hold of roles in children's ministry typically held by women. Without question dealing with kids can be uncomfortable and downright annoying at times, but the example of servanthood we see in scripture should give men little pause in rolling up their sleeves to teach a Sunday school class each week, or maybe just spend an hour a month taking care of the newborns. While filling these roles, women can lead men in knowing what ways to nurture the minds and spirits of kids inside the church. It's not the idea of feminism we hear so much about, but certainly works in shouldering the load that women have had for so long.
3) Children need fathers. Depending on what survey you look at, the rate of children being born out of wedlock is either disturbingly high or on a slight decline. Regardless, in many situations, the mom is the spiritual influence of the family. This reality alone isn't a bad thing, but in the context of a young child having no relationship with their father at all, it creates difficulty in trying to reinforce spiritual messaging. A sad reality is that whatever adult a child sees on Sunday morning could be the only true example of Jesus that boy/girl sees all week. If a boy never sees a man exhibiting his faith, will he be less likely to feel invited in to Christianity? Men can have an impact of a "spiritual" father for a short time in a child's life.
4) Men need to grow. As any father will tell you, no moment changes your life quite as much as when you become a dad. Knowing you're responsible for another person is humbling. Fatherhood does something that many other life changes do not: it forces growth. To be a dad, you simply cannot be a selfish person anymore. Taking on a role of ministry to children in the local church forces growth. You won't have all the answers, but by volunteering yourself you're saying that you desire to point boys and girls to the One who does hold the answers. As men minister to others, they grow spiritually. Paul tells us this in his letter to the church at Ephesus: "Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." (Eph. 4:15-16)
5) Jesus loved children. In the tunnel vision world of ministry, children can sometimes become a footnote on the lengthy agenda of people to minister to. Jesus never treated them as such. In fact in the midst of a busy day teaching parables, Jesus welcomed the interruption of little children, and babies even: "People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:15-17). Jesus saw what we so often fail to see in the church: the children playing in the classrooms during Sunday service are the ones that will enter mission fields, plant churches, and preach the gospel in the years to come. If the mind of Jesus could see this, any follower of Him should strive to do the same, including men.