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Let's take a look at the history of children in revival. Whenever God was moving, children's lives were being changed...all through history. Yet today in American, when we mention the words "children's ministry," we think of Sunday school, Bible stories, flannel graphs, games, puppets treats and crafts.

It hasn't always been that way. One constant throughout history is that when God's spirit is moving it has impacted children and teenagers in a powerful way.

George Whitefield (1714-1770)
George Whitefield was born on December 16, 1714. In 1733, at the age of 18, while attending Oxford University, his life was changed forever.

Whitefield soon fell in with a group of pious "Methodists" led by the Wesley brothers, John and Charles. Soon Whitefield was lost in the rigors of Methodist devotions that culminated in a highly personal and emotional "New Birth."

He determined to use the pulpit to bring others to a conversion experience. At Oxford it became clear to Whitefield he was no scholar, but equally clear he was a communicator without peer. With encouragement from the Wesleys, he determined to be a missionary to the new Georgia colony.

In the summer of 1736, while waiting to embark for Georgia, Whitefield was ordained a deacon in the Anglican Church and began preaching in and around London. Wherever he spoke, crowds materialized and hung on every word of the "boy preacher's" dramatic delivery.

Only the Spirit of God can cause this to happen, as many people would have too much pride to "hang on every word of a boy preacher."

Whitefield also seemed to have a powerful children's ministry as he records in a letter written in September of 1741.
On Monday morning, I visited the children in the three hospitals....

On Thursday evening, I preached to the children of the city with a congregation of near 20,000 in the park. It is remarkable that many children are under convictions, and everywhere great power and apparent success attend the word preached.
Wow! That's an awesome kid's crusade with 20,000 in attendance and no sound system, drama skits, or flannel graph stories. Only the power of God could cause this to happen. In April of 1742, an Edinburgh minister wrote:
On June 3, Whitefield arrived for his second visit to a rapturous welcome, and the following morning, three of the little boys that were converted when I was last here, came to me and wept and begged me to pray for and with them. A minister tells me that scarce one is fallen back who was awakened, either among old or young.
America's Great Awakening was sparked largely by Whitefield's preaching tour of 1739-40. Though only 25 years old, the evangelist took America by storm.

Whitefield's farewell sermon on Boston Common drew 23,000 people - more that Boston's entire population. It was probable the largest crowd that had ever gathered in America.

John Wesley (1703-1791)
It seems that John Wesley of the Methodist church and leader of the Wesleyan revival throughout England, also had a powerful ministry to children and was not too prideful to preach to children. The following are some quotes from John Wesley's journals.
April 11, 1756. (Dublin) I met about a hundred children, who are catechized (instructed) publicly twice a week. Thomas Walsh began this some months ago, and the fruit of it appears already. What a pity, that all our preachers in every place, have not the zeal and wisdom to follow his example.

July 30, 1758. (Cork) I began meeting with the children in the afternoon, though with little hopes of doing them good; but I had not spoken long on our natural state before many of them were in tears, and five or six so affected, that they could not refrain from crying aloud to God. When I began praying, their cries increased, so that me voice was soon lost. I have seen no such work among children for eighteen or nineteen years.

January 17, 1772. (Hertford) I found the poor children whom Mr. A kept at school were increased to about thirty boys and girls. I went in immediately to the girls. As soon as I began to speak, some of them burst into tears, and their emotion rose higher and higher. But it was kept within bounds until I began to pray.

A cry then arose, which spread from one to another, till almost all cried aloud for mercy, and would not be comforted. But how the scene was changed when I went to the boys! They seemed as dead as stones, and scarce appeared to mind anything that was said, nay, some of them could hardly refrain from laughter.

However, I spoke on, and set before them the terrors of the Lord. Presently one was cut to the heart, soon after another, and another. In ten minutes the far greater part of them were affected as the girls had been. Except at Kingswood, I have seen not such work of God upon children for above thirty years.
"We will not keep them from our children; we will tell the next generation about the Lords' power and his great deeds and the wonderful things he has done...He instructed our ancestors to teach his lows to their children, so that the next generation might learn them and in turn should tell their children. 

"In this way also they would put their trust in God and not forget what he has done, but always obey his commandments" (Ps. 78:4-7 GNB).

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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