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It's clear from Scripture that in the last days God wants to pour His Spirit out upon the children (Acts 2:16-18). To see this happen the way God wants it to, we adults need to be aware of what God is doing among our kids.

We have got to change our thinking from "I'm the teacher, and you kids are the students, so sit down, don't move, and don't talk." We've got to see our kids the way God does - as leaders. He says, "A little child shall lead them" (Isa. 11:6).

Developing Leadership Gifts
It doesn't take long to discover which children have leadership gifts: the leaders are the kids who are always competing for the spotlight. Leaders, whether they're two or 82, want to lead and they want someone to follow them. They don't always care who is following them or where they're going, they just have something in them that compels them to lead. We need to learn to let them develop those leadership gifts.

When the world recognizes a child with a gift, they do something about it. When parents see a child who has musical talent or one who can play basketball, they'll spend thousands of dollars to send that child to a specialized camp to develop that gift.

But in the church, we've often ignored leadership gifts in our children. Worse, we've sometimes chased the leaders away, because strong-willed children are just too hard to deal with.

God Uses the Strong-Willed
If you look in the Bible, you'll often find that the people who did the most for God were strong-willed. Moses was strong-willed. He had to be—he didn't get a lot of encouragement. Paul was very strong-willed. As the apostle to the Gentiles, he didn't have a whole lot of people patting him on the back. When you get around people with an apostolic call on their life, you'll find they are also strong-willed people. They have to be in order to obey God.

My point is this: there are strong-willed kids in our families and classrooms who are leaders. Some adults see these young leaders as their enemies. We don't want them around because it makes it more difficult for us. Followers are much easier to deal with.

Yet, we have a responsibility to develop those with leadership gifts, to train them, and to let them lead. That doesn't mean you let them take over. You can't say, "OK, you guys are in charge" and walk out. No, we have to disciple them and develop those leadership gifts. Children learn to be a leader by following. For strong-willed people especially, the first step in becoming a leader is, "Are you willing to submit your gift to someone else?"

As teachers and parents, we need to get the leaders on our side. If we want the group to flow with God, we need their help. The rest of the kids need to see kids yielding to God. Whoever the peer leaders are, we need to have them pulling with us, not against us. You can do that in a lot of different ways, but it begins with convincing them you like them!

Use the Children
I remember the first time the Lord said, "Use the kids." I now realize kids are capable of doing a lot of different things, but back then I had to have a supernatural move of God just to let them do puppets!

At first I argued, "Lord, that's not going to work. Their arms aren't strong enough to hold the puppets up. The book I read on puppetry said not to use kids any younger than 13 years old." Finally I said, "OK, Lord, I know it's not going to work, but just to prove to You that You are wrong, I'll do it."

I selected seven kids out of my class and put them on the puppet ministry team.

Up until that time, I had only taught kids. When I started a kids' puppet team, I began to actually pastor and disciple them. I began to do what Jesus did: He took a small group of people and poured Himself into them. His purpose was not to play favorites or have a little clique, but to reach the greater harvest.

I began to pour myself into those seven kids. I didn't just teach them to do puppets - puppetry was a tool to disciple them and train them as ministers. And it worked: eleven kids who were on my puppet teams are now in full-time ministry!

Children and Powerful Prayer
I'll never forget our first kids' camp in Minneapolis. We always started with 15 minutes of morning prayer, did fun stuff during the day, and had our revival services at night. On the second morning, as I stood praying for the kids and for their safety and protection, a girl suddenly came, knelt at the front, and went into deep intercession complete with travail, weeping, and tears.

I thought, "What's wrong with her?" I had no idea what she was doing because, at the time, I didn't understand about intercession. This was totally new to me, so I just went on with my prayer. Then, a second girl came up. Pretty soon, we had five girls up front praying. They didn't ask me if they could do it, they just did it. And I didn't know what to do!

I had enough sense to recognize that God was doing something even though I didn't understand it. Finally I told all the kids, "If you want to stay and pray you can, but if you want to go do activities, you can."

(Here's a tip about revival: Don't get hung up if every kid doesn't enter in. You're not going to get all the kids involved, just like they don't get all the adults in big church. Often at camp, when half the group is entering in and half isn't, I'll just let those who aren't entering in go do something else.)

I was surprised when ten girls stayed to pray. I sat down and watched them, because I knew they understood something about prayer that I didn't know, even though they were the kids and I was the pastor. They prayed for a long time, then they got up and left.

That night, during the service, I felt a spirit of prophecy come upon me. I grabbed the first kid in the front row, laid hands on her, and started to prophesy over her. It just rolled out of me. Every kid I came to, I had a word or a prophecy for them. I felt like I could prophesy over everybody in the room - but it didn't last that long.

Afterwards I said, "I wonder where that came from." The Holy Ghost reminded me: "Do you remember the girls who prayed this morning? They prayed it in." I have never had a prophetic anointing like that before or since then. You see, kids are capable of some pretty powerful praying!

The Night the Kids Took Over!
Since that time, I have seen more and more ways to get the children and youth involved in the ministry. Just as Jesus gave His disciples something to do, we need to give our children and youth opportunities to be involved in what God is doing. My ultimate goal is to lead children into revival and then get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit move through the kids.

That is exactly what happened at a kids' camp near Fergus Falls, Minnesota, in the summer of 1997. This was the second year that Pastor Greg Permann had asked me to be the speaker. I was excited because God had moved in a powerful way the year before. I ministered on the love of the Father, and prayed for all the kids who did not have a father living at home. Then I made a general call like this, "If anyone is hungry for more of God and you want prayer, then come forward."

Almost everyone in the room stood up. There were too many for Pastor Greg and me to pray for by ourselves, so I asked some of the worship band and teenage counselors to help pray. I didn't know it, but most of the youth group had been to the revival at Brownsville Assembly of God that summer and there was a powerful anointing on them as they began to pray.

At about 10:00 p.m. (service had been going since 7:00 p.m.) I noticed that some of the kids were not entering in any more, so I released them to go to the campfire if they wanted.

At that point, Pastor Greg and I just sat down and watched the Holy Spirit do His thing. There were children praying for other children and teenagers praying for children. Kids were laying all over the floor under the power of the Holy Spirit. Some kids were shaking, some were laughing, some were crying.

At about 11:00 p.m., some of the kids from the campfire came back and said, "Hey, is the service still going on?" They decided to come in and get prayed for again. That service lasted past midnight! I've never been in a five-hour kids' service where the children were there by their own free will. It's time to let our children and our young people lead!

Children and Worship
Worship is another area where we can learn from our kids. It was awesome when we went to Pastor Terry's church last year in Pascagoula, Mississippi. He had kids and teens and adults leading the worship in the main service. We had been preaching about this for years, but he was doing it! I asked him, "Terry, did you put that together for this conference?" He said, "No, that's our Sunday morning worship team."

There is a purity in children's worship. We need to let them lead! At camp last summer, as we were worshiping Jesus, I looked down and there was a little girl about seven, looking up at me. She asked, "Can I sing into that microphone?" and pointed to a microphone that wasn't being used. Now the "old" me (before revival) would have said, "No! They cost a hundred dollars and they're not toys!" But the thought hit me, "Why does she want to sing into the microphone?" Maybe she's a worship leader, and she sees herself up front singing.

Lies that Limit
The devil sells us lies that limit us. One such lie is: "Women can't preach." Some people believe the only ones who can preach are a bunch of old men. The idea that women can't preach is a lie from the pit of hell that wipes out more than half of God's army!

Another lie we hear a lot is: "Children are the church of tomorrow." Do you know what that says to kids? It says, "You're too little. You're not the church of today, so you can't do anything today." It puts all their gifts, all their talents, all their resources off into the future.

Our children are the church of today, and as parents and leaders, we need to make room for them—today. God has said, "A little child shall lead them."

Author Biography

Mark Harper
Web site: Mark Harper Ministries
Pastor and Leadership Coach, Mark Harper has 35 years of experience in the local church. He is the creator of the Super Church 2.0 Curriculum, which is used in over 5,000 churches worldwide. The focus of Mark's ministry is helping leaders build strong churches and helping parents build strong families. Not only has Mark served in the local church as pastor, associate pastor, and family ministry pastor but he is also a certified coach with the John Maxwell Team. He also recently released the Amazon Best Selling book The Red Book: The Lifeblood of Children's Ministry.

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