Dear Tired Kids’ Pastor, Keep Your Focus on the Gospel

6 min read

If you had to list everything that you focus on during a typical week of ministry, you would likely have a really long list.

You have relationships to manage, games to find, crayons to put out, visitors to follow up with, volunteers to schedule, angry parents to soothe, events to plan, a broken check-in system to fix, and the list goes on and on.

Because there are so many things seeking to grab our attention, it is easy to focus in on the wrong things.

Maybe we get caught up trying to increase attendance or making this week’s game better than last week’s. Maybe we spend our energy trying to keep everyone happy.

We don’t do it intentionally, but the result is we lose focus of what really matters.

Being centered in the gospel is the most important focus we need to have as leaders—and as believers.

Open bible with green highlighted verse
Image Credit: Aaron Burden/Unsplash

The good news of Jesus tells us that we all have a sin problem that we can’t fix on our own. The good news shares how the ruler of the universe loved us enough to send His one and only Son to die on the cross to take the penalty for our sins.

He rose from the dead, making a way for us to go to heaven.

This story of redemption has to be the center of our lives. It has to also be the center of our ministry. His message must be the center of everything we do.

In the midst of busyness and distractions, how do we remain gospel-centered leaders?

Preach the Gospel to Ourselves

We hear this phrase in many circles, and to be honest, I didn’t really know what it meant at first.

But it is simple.

To keep the gospel at the center of our hearts as we leader, we have to continually remind ourselves of the truths of the gospel. Daily, we need to remember that it is only by God’s grace are we saved. And it is only by God’s grace we are in ministry.

There is nothing we can do to save ourselves, for God is sovereign and over all things.

We must remind ourselves of this on the days when ministry is hard, and we can’t handle one more complaint.

And on the days when we feel like we’re on top of our game and are doing great, we must remind ourselves that God is sovereign.

We must remind ourselves on the days people are angry and on the days they love what we do.

And when we’re dealing with kids’ behavior or walking through heartbreaking situations, we must remember the gospel.

In everything and in every season—we must remember the good news of the gospel.

By preaching the gospel to yourself, you will constantly remind yourself of truth.

Stay Active in God’s Word

The most effective way we can remind ourselves of the gospel truth is to consistently read the Bible. It is not just our source for stories and lessons. It is how God teaches and changes us.

To be gospel centered, we have to think biblically. To think biblically, we have to engage with Scripture.

Boy and parent reading the bible together outside
Image Credit: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

In Matthew 12:34, Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” What is in our heart affects everything else in life.

By staying rooted in God’s Word, our teaching, decisions, and all of life will flow through a gospel-centered heart.

Root Our Identity and Security in Him

Our security is not in attendance numbers or grumpy deacons. Our security is based on who we are in Christ.

Ministry is not our identity and neither are our social media personas. The opinion of that mad parent or the aggravated staff member does not define us.

Ministry is not our identity.

We are redeemed children of God. We are worthy because we were bought with a great price.

That truth defines our identity. We need to recognize that we are imperfect and that perfection is an unattainable goal. But, thankfully, our value is not found in what we achieve but in Him who loved us first.

You Were Made For This cover

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You Were Made For This cover

Ready to get some rest for your weary soul?

Get ready to pause, take a deep breath, and rest, in our guide from Ministry Spark: You Were Made for This: Caring for Your Soul as a Ministry Leader.
Free Guide
You Were Made For This cover

Ready to get some rest for your weary soul?

Get ready to pause, take a deep breath, and rest, in our guide from Ministry Spark: You Were Made for This: Caring for Your Soul as a Ministry Leader.
Free Guide

Keep Our Motivations in Check

When we are centered on the gospel, we focus on doing all things for God’s glory and not for our own.

We don’t worry about who gets the hoorays and the recognition. Having the biggest crowds or the most popular Facebook posts isn’t driving us. We are not motivated by trying to outdo the church down the street.

We are motivated solely by seeking God’s glory and making His name known.

Match Our Methodology to Our Focus

When we are gospel centered, we recognize that some of the typical standards for a “successful” children’s ministry are not what are most important to us.

Our end goal is so much bigger than the number of kids in the room.

If we are focused on doing whatever it takes to beat the last attendance record, it is easy to sacrifice truth.

When we are gospel centered, entertainment becomes secondary. We recognize that “success” for us lies in determining what will best communicate the gospel in a clear and relevant way to the kids in our churches, in our communities.

Theology matters. Learning Scripture matters.

Boy reading book while lying on a sofa
Image Credit: Ulrike Schmitt-Hartmann/Moment/Getty Images

While fun is important, it is not as important as kids walking away with a clear understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done for them.

Expand Our Mission

Gospel-centered leaders live like there are 2 billion people in the world who are dying and going to hell, including the 3,200 unengaged people groups and the people who live within the shadow of your church.

Gina McClain once pointed out that we are currently leading the generation that could potentially fulfill the Great Commission.

We must help our kids and volunteers and families see outside of our church’s walls in order to serve and to reach a lost world.

Love Others with Much Grace

We can have solid theology, know the right methods, and teach kids about Christ. But if we are treating people badly, we are not gospel centered.

The gospel shows us that God has given us “grace upon grace,” yet so often we are slow to show that same grace to others.

We harbor bitterness, or we respond with harshness. Our tempers are short and we are easily offended.

God loved us in our imperfection, yet we expect perfection from others.

Gospel-centered leaders understand that they have been saved and redeemed by grace. That means gospel-centered leaders are characterized by grace-filled relationships with others.

Gospel-centered leaders are characterized by grace-filled relationships with others.

It’s easy to talk about being gospel centered. Living it out is hard.

It requires constant self-evaluation. It requires humility. Yes, it requires making hard decisions that may not be popular. It requires going against the flow of the world, and sometimes also against church culture.

But is it worth it? Absolutely!

The gospel is the “power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16)

The gospel is what matters.

Fight to keep it at the center of your leadership and your heart.

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  Updated on August 27, 2019

About the Author

  • Jenny Funderburke Smith is the wife of Dan and mama of three sweet and crazy girls. She is the Minister to Children at West Bradenton Baptist Church in Bradenton, Florida. She is a founding leader of Gospel@Center and blogs at jennyfsmith.com because she is passionate about equipping the church to disciple children to follow Jesus. Jenny also loves investing in other children's ministry leaders through one-on-one conversations, informal gatherings, or speaking at national conferences (such as CPC or Lifeway's Etch). She really loves ice cream, Tennessee football, and the beach.

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