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It has been said that “success is a journey, not a destination,” so I thought I would share with you my ministry journey and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

I remember the first time I met a children’s pastor. It was October of 1978. I was attending my second year of Bible College at Rhema Bible Training Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. One of my classes was entitled, “Ministering to Children” and was taught by Willie George, a children’s pastor at a local church in Tulsa.

Today, Pastor Willie George is Senior Pastor at Church On The Move – one of the largest churches in the country, but in 1978 I didn’t know who Willie George was.

Even though I had no desire to minister to kids, this became my favorite class and I looked forward to it every day. I still have my handwritten notes from that class. One of the things that I never forgot was this statement, “God calls people to children’s ministry.” I didn’t know that God could anoint people to minister to children. I saw children’s ministry as babysitting – taking care of the kids so parents could receive ministry.

Pastor Willie changed all that for me as he began to teach on the ministry of a children’s pastor. Many churches had youth pastors, but I had never heard of the concept of “children’s pastor” before. God used Pastor Willie to pioneer the ministry of the “children’s pastor.” He wasn’t the first guy to think of the concept; however, there is no doubt that God used him to spearhead the calling of the “children’s pastor” and to bring it to the forefront in the body of Christ.

I’m not sure at what point I felt called to be a children’s pastor. I just knew that I needed to learn everything I could from this man – Willie George. One day after class I approached Pastor Willie and said, “I’d like to get involved with your children’s ministry.”

“What age group do you want to work with?” Willie asked.

“First grade or older,” I said. I was only 19 at the time, but I was smart enough to know I didn’t want to change diapers and wasn’t really sure at what age the diaper changing stopped.

“I’d like you to come watch me minister in children’s church for four weeks and then I will assign you to a class.”

After the four weeks was up he said to me, “Mark, I want you to help Jeanne Horne in the Preschool class at the 11:00am service.”

After a short internal struggle, I started assisting Jeanne at the 11:00am service. After several weeks of teaching in the preschool class, the Lord said to me,“Go watch Pastor Willie at the 9:00am service.”

Instead of going to the main service at the 9:00am service, I went to children’s church and watched Pastor Willie.

I remember once, during a training session, Pastor Willie looked at me and said, “You are a wise man, Mark Harper.” I never really thought about it like that. I was just obeying God, but over the past thirty years I’ve come to see the wisdom in what I did. This is one of the most important things you can do if you are called to be a children’s pastor. Find somebody that is doing it really well and watch him or her.

I learned so much from watching Pastor Willie. A lot of ministry stuff is better caught than taught. The most important thing I received from watching Pastor Willie was the anointing to teach kids. There is an anointing from the Holy Spirit to take the Word of God and preach to children and I find that not everyone can do it. (You need the Holy Spirit to help you do this.)

Today, I see a lot of children’s pastors who focus on the gimmicks, the tricks and the tech.

I believe the reason God used Willie George is that his ministry to children focused on God’s Word. Yes, he used the flash paper, burning Bible and multi-media, but when I left one of his services I was always thinking about the Word of God.

In 1981, Pastor Willie resigned as a children’s pastor to launch Willie George Ministries and the Gospel Bill Show. I am so grateful that I had a window of opportunity to observe Pastor Willie minister as a children’s pastor for nine months.

I will always be indebted to Pastor Willie George. The only way I know to pay him back is to keep running my race.

My question for you is, “Who are you following?” If you aren’t following someone you can start today.

Copyright ©  Mark Harper Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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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