Hamil Harris of The Washington Post tells the story of the Rev. Ezekiel Stoddard, an 11-year-old boy preacher with his own congregation.
Ezekiel Stoddard is 11. Last month, he was ordained as a minister in his family’s independent Pentecostal church, an act sanctioned by the state of Maryland….
Ezekiel is part of a centuries-long tradition, one that spans the globe. Even as the world becomes ever more modern and sophisticated, child preachers remain a subject of fascination and debate. Skeptics have suggested that they are more motivated by attention and pushy parents than God. How, after all, can a child understand the Gospel or the intricacies of ministry?
Others, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, who started preaching in the Church of God in Christ when he was 4, believe that God can, indeed, speak through children.
“God can use anybody; why not a child?” said David Warren, a member of the chorus that performed at Ezekiel’s ordination at Fullness of Time Church, which occupies a former Capitol Heights warehouse and is headed by Ezekiel’s stepfather.
Ezekial certainly comes off as a gifted and levelheaded kid. I don’t have any reasons to question his parents’ intentions, and I don’t doubt his grasp of the Gospel. But I wonder if anyone else shares my concerns that from a simple child development point of view, he just isn’t ready for this kind of work, and that it will affect his negatively in the long run.