As a child growing up in a Southern Baptist church in Irving, Clint May knew Jesus as his savior. That’s about all he knew.
“No one taught me about the relationship I could have with Christ,” said May, minister to children at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth. “From the point I got saved I attended church faithfully through high school.”
It was 27 years later that May began to understand that there is more to the Christian faith than the fact that he would one day spend eternity in Heaven in the presence of the Lord.
May hopes a conference on Sept. 20 at Wedgwood called “Leaders-In-Training (L.I.T.),” co-sponsored by the SBTC, will help churches equip preteens with a fuller understanding of Christian discipleship and the tools to minister to others.
“Jesus tells us that he gives us life ? and life to the full,” May said. “John 10:10 says, ‘?I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.'”
After the Lord convicted May of this truth, he said he became committed to sharing Christ with others.
It was in spring 1989 that May was called to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where he later received a master of Christian education degree.
“It became clear while attending my third month of seminary that the Lord was calling me to children’s ministry,” a ministry May has had for the past 18 years.
Taking a different approach to Baptist ministry, May attended a non-denominational conference to see what other ministry leaders were doing.
“I was amazed to see that they were taking children on mission trips, training them to be leaders in the church, as well as teaching them to share their faith ? many questions have run through my mind.
Over the years I had struggled with the idea of what God could do through a child,” May said.
On May 8, 2002, May was called as children’s pastor at Wedgwood. “Through my experiences I felt led to do something new at Wedgwood,” he said. “The summer was three weeks away when I decided to start a new program called Leaders In Training. We wanted to teach our preteens certain skills for ministry so we offered puppet, tech (power-point, and sound) and praise team opportunities,” he said.
“We allowed them to use their skills and to lead throughout the summer.”
Having taken the steps in the book “The Master Life” written by Bill Bright and Avery Willis and bringing it to the level of a child, May wrote a devotional book for children called “The Journey.” The study focused on five key steps: lordship, Bible study, prayer, evangelism and fellowship.
“My goal the third week after we started was to take our preteens?fifth and sixth graders, on a retreat and train them how to share their faith,” May said.
It was only two weeks after the retreat when they did a backyard Bible Club at a local apartment complex. The L.I.T. group counseled at the invitation time and they led three children to Christ.
“I talked with each child after they were counseled by our L.I.T. and they knew exactly what they had done. I was amazed at what the Lord did through our L.I.T. It began an adventure for me.”
Salvations are not the only blessing of this ministry, May said. “I also witnessed something even greater as our kids were spending time daily in the Word of God, sharing their faith, and doing ministry. There was a transformation that occurred in their lives very quickly,” he said.
Two years after they began L.I.T. at Wedgwood, the preteens were set for their first mission trip. The L.I.T.s headed for Corpus Christi to present the gospel to children in apartment complexes and government housing.
“We trained them well, and they were ready to be released to minister,” May said.
Adults were told that the L.I.T. children would be doing everything?from teaching to leading worship to counseling to feeding the children who attend Bible studies. Adults would help if needed.
“On the first day of the trip, one of our fifth-grade boys taught and gave an invitation. Four children and three teenagers accepted Christ as their savior,” May recalled. “The leaders were all stunned by what the Lord did. By the end of our trip 27 children, youth and adults accepted Christ as their savior.
Recently, about 55 L.I.T. went on a trip to San Marcos; the result was 92 people led to Christ.”
The San Marcos trip included kids from Wedgwood and from Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth.
“It’s been a God thing,” May said, “and it’s a real blessing to me when I see kids who come in here rough around the edges and they leave children whose lives have been transformed for the glory of God.”
“Our goal has become to equip children for ministry,” May said.
Another endeavor they have at Wedgwood is helping preteens find their spiritual gift. This is where Ephesians 4:11-12 plays an important role in the children’s ministry there, May said. Those verses read: “And he gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers for equipping the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”
One of May’s favorite quotes is from Ken Hemphill: “I know this may sound radical, but we are suggesting that all young people should be raised with the conviction that they are to be missionaries, and their primary goals are to use their gifts and resources to advance God’s kingdom so that every tribe, nation, and people group have the opportunity to respond to their rightful King.”
May added: “It is my conviction to do just that?to raise up a generation that will rock their world and make a difference for Christ. Many parents have shared with me through the years of how their children’s lives have been deeply impacted by what they learned in L.I.T.”
The L.I.T. conference on Sept. 20 is aimed at children’s ministers, Sunday school teachers and anyone who wants to learn how to effectively disciple and equip preteens for ministry.
The conference is from 9 a.m.?4 p.m. at Wedgwood Baptist Church, 5522 Whitman Ave., Fort Worth 76133. Pre-registration is $25 per person, $35 at the door and $15 for seminary students. For more information, visit wedgwoodbc.org or call 817-292-1400.