At the LoveSingapore Pastors’ Prayer Summit 2024, a special panel discussion was held on the state of children’s ministry in Singapore.

Led by Senior Pastor Daniel Wee (Church of our Saviour), the panel included Pastor SAMUEL PHUN (Senior Pastor of River Community Church) and Pastor EILEEN TOH (City Harvest, Harvest Kidz) who discussed a range of topics such as the heartbeat behind the children’s ministry, the challenges faced while serving and their best practices learnt along the way.

Why the children’s ministry?

PS SAMUEL: Two reasons. The first is that children don’t automatically come into the kingdom of God. Judges 2:10 says that “another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel”.

The word “know” in Hebrew is yada, which means experiential knowing. We need to raise them right, through experience, so that we do not lose this coming generation.

The second reason is God’s heart for children. In Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17, God says that He will pour out His Spirit on all people. God is raising a new generation, and this generation comes from two places – in the church and outside the church.

In the church, we must focus on biblical parenting. On the outside, we must reach out to the community. As mentioned in Deuteronomy 10:12, God wants His children to fear, love and serve Him, and we play a part by discipling children.

PS EILEEN: I do what I do because I believe that the next generation can be saved. Since I was saved when I was six, I believe that these kids can also be saved when they are young. And to prepare the next generation, I have three Cs that I think the church must do.

Commitment. The first thing one must do is to commit to the Lord with what you have. Instead of looking at what we do not have, we must first look at what we have and multiply whatever we have in our hands. Whether it is one or 10 kids, I make full use of the resources that God has given to me.

Consistency. When we first started Harvest Kidz, we were very excited about doing outreaches and our first event saw 200 kids. But I remember we had one week where the buses were empty, and only eight out of 200 kids showed up. I did my best as if there were 200 kids. Instead of looking at the numbers, I looked at their souls because each one counts. It was not easy but we constantly kept on doing what was needed.

Creativity. We need to be open to new things and new norms. Many of our outreaches were affected during COVID-19, and we needed to ask God for creativity. We met on Zoom and held online lessons instead.

Though the pandemic has ended, the new norm allowed us to discover a new audience – children who are not in church and who need help. Now, I can be a pastor to children beyond the four walls of the church, beyond the borders of Singapore. For example, I reached out to children in India over Zoom, teaching them the Word of God and helping them to be saved.

In every difficult situation, there can be a breakthrough if we ask God for creativity.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when you were starting your children’s ministry?

PS SAMUEL: For me, the biggest challenge lies in the Christian parents who do not fight hard to trust in God’s ways, but instead choose to embrace the ways of the world.

That is where it is hard for us to raise the child in the ways of the Lord. This is also why biblical parenting is so important and it is something we need to educate the church on.

PS EILEEN: Two things. The first is manpower. Children’s pastors and teachers are all in the same boat, the lack of manpower is a constant factor for all of us. But I believe that if we commit ourselves and be faithful, God will multiply our time and resources.

The second is isolation. The children’s ministry is usually parked in one room in a corner. The pastors who serve in the children’s ministry have to miss service most of the time as we do not have another service to go to, and it is easy to feel under-appreciated. Hence, it is important to surround yourself with people from different ministries.

And for those who know people serving in the children’s ministry – encourage them. That way we can build each other up!

What are some core values that drive your ministry?

PS SAMUEL: Principles cannot change. While techniques can change as culture changes, godly principles must remain. It is essential to consistently embrace God’s character and His ways.

Godly intentions must be paired with godly practices. I cannot say I want to win souls, but I use the ways of the world.

PS EILEEN: My driving principle is for the children to encounter the Lord as many times as they can. The children’s ministry is not a babysitting ministry. It is a place for the children to grow and genuinely experience the Lord.

It is my greatest joy to see children grow up in church and coming back to serve as leaders – it truly is fulfilling.

How do you engage children outside of the church?

PS SAMUEL: First, we get children to come by word of mouth. The whole church must be involved in reaching out because the children’s ministry is a whole church ministry. Secondly, the programme must be engaging and creative. Moreover, it should be updated and refreshed regularly.

PS EILEEN: Outreach is intentional. Every week we go down to HDB blocks and we reach out to the families living there. After explaining the whole event, if the parents are willing to let their children go, they simply sign a consent form. You will be surprised at how many parents actually sign up on the spot.

The harvest is plentiful, and all we need to do is to take the step of faith to reach out. Don’t worry about those who reject you. Just be respectful and move on.

Even though our children’s ministry has grown over the years, we still make time for outreach. The harvest is always plentiful, there are always needs out there.

Any words of encouragement?

PS SAMUEL: If we do not reach out to the children, we will have problem youth. I believe in an intergenerational church; all generations, whether children, youth or adults must have the same vision. We must love, serve and obey the Lord together.

The percentage of children under 14 and the percentage of Christians in Singapore are almost equal. We have to challenge our members to share the gospel with the children. If all Christians in Singapore sow into a child’s life, never mind whether they come to know the Lord or not – the whole country will be saturated with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Singapore shall be saved!

PS EILEEN: I hold on very dearly to the Word of God. Do not limit God. God can do above and beyond what we can imagine in our children.

Do not look at your lack, look at what you have. God is a multiplier, a miracle worker, and whatever is in our hands will be the five loaves and two fish. God is everything.

Big or small churches, we can reach out to all the children out there. It can be done!

  1. What is one takeaway you have from this article?
  2. How has your church been building up the children’s ministry?
  3. What can you do to help equip the next generation of biblical families?