In the past couple of months, I’ve had a handful of conversations regarding what children’s ministry is suppose to be. I’ve talked to children’s directors, pastors, volunteers, parents, and educators. Some were tired. Some were frustrated. Some were unsatisfied. Some were burnt out. Some were new to ministry and just needed some direction. After multiple discussions, it’s come to my attention that so many people have different thoughts on what children’s ministry in the church is suppose to be… instead of starting with what children’s ministry is, I thought I’d start with what it’s NOT… by the way, the following list is merely my opinion, not the law of any sort. However, please feel free to chime in!
Children’s Ministry is NOT:
- A Babysitter’s Club: Our volunteers and I do not exist to provide childcare for personal and even church-related gatherings such as small groups. We work with the church calendar and staff to provide children’s ministry as needed, but we’re not on-call 24/7.
- A Military Boot Camp: Our primary goal isn’t to take kids with disciplinary issues and fix them. However, we will partner with parents and journey with them to guide their children. We’re not in the business of fixing kids. We’re in the business of sharing Christ’s love with kids… and sometimes they may seem like they’re being “fixed.” But it’s not all our doing–it’s all God’s doing!
- An Arts & Crafts/Busy Work Class: Our goal isn’t to make sure the kids go home with “show & tell” of what they’ve done in class. Just because kids come home with lots of art projects and paperwork doesn’t mean they’ve learned something or connected with Jesus. In fact, paperwork is sometimes used as busy work. Yes, we do craft projects here and there but they’re intentionally incorporated into our lessons. Please don’t assume we haven’t done ministry just because kids aren’t sent home with “take-home show & tell.” Someone I talked to recently said, “I’m tired of doing arts & crafts with kids in my ministry.” I would be too if it was used to just fill up time instead of using art projects to teach or enhance the day’s lesson.
- A Community Service: Children’s ministries don’t exist so preteens can fulfill their community service hours for school. We like to encourage kids to serve and instill the value of serving God and others at young age, but we want them to serve out of love and obedience to God rather than for school credit.
- SAT/Tutoring Center: We do teach knowledge and information. However, our goal isn’t to see how much information and verses kids can memorize and regurgitate. We’re not going to give them standardized tests to see if they pass. We want to see transformed hearts and lives. We don’t just teach knowledge and information; we also help kids process and discover knowledge and information. We don’t just want them to “know.” We also want them to “understand.” We want to see kids living changed lives because they have encountered and experienced Jesus in tangible ways.
- A Monastery: Yes, we pray and worship in Children’s Ministry… but we’re not going to ask kids to keep their “mouths zipped and ears open” the whole time! We wants kids to interact and have fun! We want them to ask questions, make noise, process their thoughts, and discuss our lessons. I’ve been told that the kids make too much noise… to which I answered, “It’s because they’re making discoveries and learning and having fun!”
Yes, I will write what I believe “Children’s Ministry Is” in a future blog. In the meantime, any others you want to add???