Messy Marvels: Kentucky Children’s Ministry Reaches Adults, Too
By Noel Marquis
Walk into Cynthiana First Church of God in Cynthiana, Kentucky, on the third Sunday of the month and you might be surprised to witness something a bit different than a typical sermon. In fact, you may be watching a group of energetic kids cheering for God’s love, or water being poured over a youth pastor’s head onstage.
Once a month, Cynthiana First Church of God gets children actively involved in sharing a lesson with the rest of the congregation. These messages, dubbed “Kidz Mess,” are kid-friendly sermons that keep youth and children engaged with God’s Word.
When Pastor Earl Litman began pastoring at Cynthiana First Church of God ten years ago, only a few children were among the congregation. He felt God moving him to take action to attract more families to the church. “I knew that to keep the kids and families coming, we had to do more for our children’s’ ministry,” Earl says.
However, beginning a children’s ministry program wasn’t as simple as it sounded. The church lacked youth leaders to conduct the children’s program on Sunday mornings during regular services, so Pastor Earl decided to improvise. “So I said, since we cannot get anybody [to teach the children] on that Sunday, I will bring all the kids to the platform and do a kids message, and make it so the adults can get something out of it, as well,” Earl explains.
Although Kidz Mess was met with some skepticism when it began a year and a half ago, it is now often the most well-attended service of the month. Even adults in the congregation seem to enjoy the unusual service, and look forward to its creativity and the contagious joy of the children who are allowed to participate in sharing a lesson. Some Sundays, up to forty kids will participate in the message.
Recently, Pastor Earl focused his Kidz Mess on the concept of trusting in God. As part of the lesson, he poured a glass of water and held it over a participating youth pastor’s head before asking if he trusted in him. As the children gasped and cheered, Pastor Earl then pressed a card to the top of the glass before tipping it over the youth pastor. To the children’s surprise, the card remained suctioned to the glass, preventing the ice-cold water from dousing the stage. The presentation proved the power of trust to the audience.
Cynthiana First Church of God also sets aside time during the first Sunday service of the month to pray over the youth in the congregation. Children of all ages and their families are invited onstage while prayer partners surround them. “Kids have it tough going to school and what they’re doing these days,” Pastor Earl says. “It’s another way of saying ‘you’re important to us and we love you, and we’ll do all we can to help.’”
Pastor Earl says that in order to run a successful children’s ministry, it is crucial to have a support system. “It takes an army,” he says. “Often, it’s a lot easier to put together a sermon than a kid’s message.” Earl receives assistance from volunteers who help keep the children in order onstage and provide materials for the lessons. He also receives help planning activities for the Kidz Mess from his wife.
“If young families are important, and we believe that they are, you have to do something to show that support and continue ministering to those kids,” Pastor Earl says. “These kids have challenged and stretched me in ways that I never thought possible. That to me is really exciting.”
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Noel Marquis is an Anderson University senior English and journalism double major, also serving as communication intern for Church of God Ministries.