Child prodigies like Mozart and the fictional character Doogie Howser have dotted history for centuries. Genuine or fictional, their stories are fascinating, sometimes unbelievable and sometimes inspiring. But how would you take to sitting down in church and watching a prepubescent child climb the altar to preach to you about the meaning of life and how to live your life? Can an even well-read 9-year-old deliver a message to adults about a life they’ve barely begun? Well some of the following children have been supported by their families and churches to get ordained as ministers.
Ordained at 11
Ezekiel Stoddard was ordained as a minister in the Spring of 2012. He is an 11-year-old home schooled boy from Temple Hills, Maryland (just outside of Washington D.C.). Stoddard first began preaching around the age of eight.
Since his passage into ministry, he has been preaching regularly at the Fullness of Time Church in Capitol Heights, MD and has delivered guest sermons at several churches around the Washington D.C. area. Many have questioned the sincerity and healthiness of a child entering the realm of grownups at such an early stage. But Ezekiel and his parents reply with confidence that God has chosen him for this.
Celebrity Preacher by 4 Years Old
Kanon Tipton began at the ripe age of 21 months and is the third generation of preachers in his family. Watching him is like watching an old Baptist preacher march up and down the stage praising and stomping and testifying. He has yet to officially get ordained, but he seems to be well on his way.
In a YouTube video Tipton is seen approaching a pint-sized podium with his Crayola colored Bible case. He cracks open his Bible, grabs a mic, and gets down to telling it on the mountain. This 4-year-old now has well over a million views of his sermons on YouTube.
7-year-old Street Prophet
Samuel Boutwell of Brookhaven, Mississippi was preaching in his local church and on the road by age seven. The home schooled second grader frequently preaches in front of his local Wal-Mart and abortion clinics. He has traveled to Virginia, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Washington D.C. to preach the Good Word. Boutwell has also preached on the streets of New York City.
There Are Some Skeptics
Richard Balmer has authored several books criticizing the American religious right. He is also a professor of American religious history at Barnard College, Columbia University, and an Episcopal priest. Balmer is clear about his position when he describes this phenomenon as “offensive to the faith.” He believes leading people in life should come from a life of experience and maturity. Balmer also suggests these child prodigies are being used as gimmicks. How do you see this matter? Is God working through these talented young children, or are there other things at work here?
Stephen Craig is an avid guest blogger who has contributed to many online publications. Follow him @SCraigSEO.