Since the 1970s, I have had a front row seat to the world and have witnessed firsthand the phenomenal rise of global children’s ministry. Over the past 40 years, more Christians, churches, religious groups, and resources have been committed to the ministry of kids worldwide, than at any other time in history.
This has resulted in a cottage industry of children’s ministry products including college degrees, technology, expert consultants, publishing, conferences, books, magazines, curriculum, websites, chat rooms, social media apps, television and radio programs, music, equipment, facilities, events, professional entertainers, sports, games, toys, and more.
Some of these products are valuable resources that have improved ministry to children over the years. A number of products are questionable, at best, and a few are simply blasphemous.
Today’s global children’s ministry movement can be painted with a broad brush. In the name of “unity,” this worldwide network of “influencers” has embraced anyone and everyone regardless of doctrine. This includes pastors, children’s ministry leaders, missionaries, churches, denominations, para-church organizations, mission societies, political groups, educators, business leaders, religious publishers, Christian broadcasters and charitable foundations. Many who have stated beliefs contrary to Scripture are welcomed into this movement and tolerated, as long as they say they love Jesus.
But the written Word and the Living Word cannot be separated. They are ONE.
Although the global children’s ministry movement is a “grab bag” of theology, practices and manifestations, there are many creative and talented pastors and leaders who are committed to Christ and whose teaching is Biblically sound. These heroes of the faith evangelize and disciple children, and equip believers for ministry. As they continue to serve humbly, inspire others, and “build-up” the Body of Christ around the world, their contributions to global children’s ministry are making a huge impact.
While some partnerships are profitable for wider ministry to children, the global children’s ministry movement is dominated by the marketing of merchandise and “emerging” leaders who espouse a new form of spiritually. They have imported extra-Biblical beliefs known as Word of Faith, Signs and Wonders, Dominion Theology, Kingdom Now, Transformation Theology, Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare, Seven Mountains Mandate, New Mountain, Spiritual Mapping, Emergent Theology, Contemplative-Reflective Spiritual Formation, and Mysticism. The infiltration of these counterfeit doctrines into global children’s ministry has come primarily through leaders (and followers) of the New Apostolic Reformation and Emerging Church.
As a result of their influence, the Authority and Truth of Scripture has been minimized or completely disregarded in the global church. It has been replaced by “spiritual experiences” and entertainment such as “theater, art, science, drama, music, computer, and cooking,” as one purpose statement makes clear on an American church’s website.
The global church “promotes fun while building character,” and uses “reality-conscious teaching” to accomplish that. The church is where a child can “belong…be heard…and meet new friends.” Parents are told that the way to connect their kids to God and help them grow spiritually is “achieved best through relationships.” Church has become “a place where loving God is cool and kids rule!”
The name of Jesus is occasionally mentioned, but His story is not fully told because the Bible is not used. “The Gospel” is referred to, but never clearly explained from Scripture, so children leave church confused, with no understanding of Truth. When kids do not learn about Jesus from the Bible, they do accept Him as their Savior and Lord, or in their shallow faith, lack the assurance of salvation.
Eric Ludy, president of Ellerslie Mission Society said, “If you believe the Word of God is the word of men, your foundations will fail you. But, if you want to build upon a rock, then you take God at His Word. The Word of God is the Word of God and the Word of God is as God is: It cannot lie. Therefore, when you have those foundation points, you are not shaken.”
The global church is teaching children to build their foundations on sand, not ROCK. When God’s Word is minimized or abandoned, kids will eventually look for truth elsewhere. 2 Timothy 4:4 (NIV) says, “They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” Why are we surprised when kids decide not to follow Jesus and one day leave the church, never to return?
The responsibility for children’s ministry begins with Christian parents and ends with the leadership of the local church. Ask questions and find out what is being taught to the children in your congregation. Are they learning the Scripture or simply fables? Do not be indifferent or remain silent, SPEAK UP FOR TRUTH!
Until Christians rise-up and demand change from their church leaders, this strange fire in the global children’s ministry movement will continue to infiltrate local congregations around the world. This is an URGENT call for discernment to Christian parents, pastors and Elders within the Body of Christ worldwide.
Steve Karges is president of Children’s Ministries International, Inc., a non-denominational, evangelical Christian ministry, which he founded in 1980 in San Diego, California. Steve is the coordinator of Global 4/14 Day, a worldwide day of prayer for children, held annually on April 14. He is also editor of Heroic Dads, a syndicated commentary for Christian fathers. Steve is married to Janette and they have two grown children. The Karges’ will soon become Foster parents for the first time. Visit www.cmikids.com.