Archive for the ‘children’s ministry’ Category

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Rethinking our assumptions

June 24, 2008

We were on our biannual staff retreat last week. One of the passages we looked at for our discussion times was Micah 3.

In essence, Micah is blasting the Israelite leaders for assuming that they are following God when they really weren’t. The passage uses some very strong language to suggest that they should’ve known better, but they really thought they were following God.

How many times do we assume that we are following God when we really aren’t? How do we know? I mean, Micah then goes on to say how he is following God. How does he really know? OK, he was a prophet, but still…

I think many times we go about our lives assuming that we are following God and doing what he wants. We assume this because things are going well: no major bumps at home, church programs are running well, house over our heads, etc. We, then, take less risks and seek out calmer waters rather than jumping into a potentially dangerous adventure.

I wonder if we’ve done the same thing with children’s ministry. What if we are simply assuming that the way we do children’s ministry is THE WAY it’s supposed to be done? What if we are so used to thinking that we are hearing from God that we are completely missing “it” when it comes to children’s ministry? Some of us will point to “family ministry” and say that is the answer… What if it isn’t? Is there something else that we are missing?

Just some random thoughts and questions I’ve been mulling over. What are you doing in children’s ministry? What are your ultimate goals? What are you doing to evaluate whether or not you are actually hearing from God about children’s ministry?

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Ministry Focus

June 5, 2008

(photo by Balakov)
I was in a conversation with a children’s pastor a while back who was looking for good web content to put into his website so kids would come visit. My question was, “Why?”

Why are you spending time, and lots of it because websites take TIME, putting a website together for kids to go to? That time and money can better be spent elsewhere… like equipping and empowering volunteers to reach children and families. His answer? “Yeah, I know… but I want a place for kids to be able to access Christian content. Aren’t we supposed to provide as many opportunities for kids to encounter Jesus?”

Why do we children’s ministers continue to fall for the myth that the more opportunities we have out there for kids to interact/hear the Gospel the better?

Oh, I know that we all know that we need to simplify and focus on only what we do best. But most of us never really do that. We claim that we need all our programs (and more) and that we do all of them well!

We need to start being more honest with ourselves and realize that we can’t do everything we do well. We can only do a few things well, and we need to focus on those.

Imagine what we could do if all of our resources (time, volunteers, money, creativity) were used on only one program or initiative… Imagine focusing on the one thing that you do better than anyone else…

Imagine what we could do if each of us took those flashlights called children’s ministry and focus those lights into laser beams… Talk about making a lasting impression.

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Who’s More Important?

April 9, 2008

Being involved in children’s ministry for 16 years, of course I am going to say that children’s ministry is the most important ministry in the church. Then came Barna’s book, Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions and the floodgates opened for children’s ministry to be pushed to the forefront of the ministry landscape.

When this happened, SPs all over the place jumped on the bandwagon making claims that children’s ministry was the answer to church growth. The children’s ministry agency for the denomination I was in at the time even had a workshop at it’s national conference for senior pastors on how to leverage children’s ministry to grow their churches. I thought, and still do, that doing this simply turned CM into a church growth strategy rather than something that was vital to the overall spiritual growth of the church.

I’ve contended for a long time that children’s ministry cannot be the end-all when it comes to church growth… numerically or spiritually. Yes, a well-run and excellent children’s ministry will attract people and even keep families coming back… for a while, but you must also have a strong adult ministry that is discipling adults to be a part of ministry. Without a strong adult ministry, adults do not grow and you don’t have adults who can be a part of the ministry in the church… including children’s ministry.

So, which is more important? Children’s ministry or adult ministry? The answer is, “Yes.” They are both important. Are you sitting down? I would even say that adult ministry is ever-so slightly more important than children’s ministry… not much more, mind you, but yes more important. Adults are what make church happen. Without spiritually mature and growing adults, you don’t have a church… at least for long.

Healthy, growing churches have to have both a vibrant adult ministry and children’s ministry!

What if you can’t have both? Who do you hire first? Children’s Pastor or Adult Ministry Pastor? Well, that depends on your demographic and what you want to accomplish. The key is that both ministries must be intentional in feeding the other. Children’s ministry must be intentional not only in discipling children but in discipling adults (parents and volunteers). Adult ministry must not only grow and disciple adults into ministry but intentionally filter those people and prepare those people for children’s ministry.

It’s a both/and situation. You really can’t have one working without the other, and to make blanket statements on either side is foolish.

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Puddle Boots and the Definition of “Fun”

April 3, 2008

Well, the snow is finally melting here in the Great White North, and the kids have transitioned into wearing rain boots rather than snow boots. The other day my 3-year old daughter was getting read to go out, and she said, “I want to wear my puddle boots.” Immediately, I wanted to pick her up and give her tons of kisses for her cuteness. I had never thought of calling rain boots… puddle boots. We always have told our kids that if they want to jump in the puddles, they need to wear their rain boots instead of their nice runners (sneakers or tennis shoes, for those of you in the States). My daughter decided to bypass the silly name of rain boots and call them for their purpose, which is jumping in puddles 🙂 Oh, to be three again! It got me thinking, though. How many times do we try and be formal with how we word our documents and our mission statements and such? How many times to we try and think of cool names for VBS or Sunday School instead of just revamping it all and reinventing something new? Why don’t we just figure out what we want to do, do it, and then call it what it is? Weird thoughts to come out of my interaction with my daughter and her puddle boots.

If that wasn’t enough, I was talking with a parent a couple of weeks ago about her son. She wanted to know if he was spending too much time goofing off on Sunday mornings or actually participating. I let her know that he was a typical boy: he did both! On the way home she talked with her son about not goofing off so much. His response to her was, “Mom, I don’t understand. Henry wants us to have fun.” That is true. One of our rules is, “Expect to learn something and have fun doing it.” In his mind, he was having fun while goofing off. It was one of those DUH moments. I’ve been telling kids this rule for years! How many have been interpreting it that way? Of course a kid is going to include being goofy with having fun! It got me thinking about what other things I’ve taken for granted that kids understand. Do kids understand what I mean by “God loves you no matter what” or “Jesus wants to be your forever friend”? Do kids understand what we are singing? Do they understand the points we are trying to teach them? How many times do we think that kids understand what we think we are saying when they really don’t?

Just some questions and thoughts that have been going through my mind these past couple of weeks. Any thoughts?

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Boys and Dolls

March 24, 2008

The New York Times had this article about a growing toy phenomenon with boys. It’s not a new action figure or even a new video game. It’s a doll! They are called Ugly Dolls and seem to be a hit with boys. It was interesting to read the article and a couple of psychologists’ views of why the dolls are so popular with the male gender.

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Air Freshener Please

March 13, 2008

At the beginning of this week, my family was able to take a short vacation. When we got to the hotel, I had one bad encounter after another. The check in person treated me as if I were an inconvenience, the bathroom didn’t have a toilet roll dispenser (just a roll of TP on top of the toilet tank lid), the shower mat was torn, the shower drain was clogged, the door handle came off, and there was a draft from under the door. Needless to say, I was a bit nit-picky about the room. Anyway, it got me thinking of hotel rooms in general: good ones and bad ones that I’ve stayed in. I noticed one thing in common with all of the rooms: no air freshener for the bathroom.

Now, let’s all be honest. We all have some sort of air freshener in our bathrooms at home… and for a good reason! Why not supply hotel bathrooms with an air freshener. It’s not like we don’t use the bathroom when we are on vacation. We warn family ahead of time that we are going to use the bathroom, we turn on the vent fan (if there is even one), or we bring our own air freshener (which is what my wife does). Why don’t hotels just put a little bottle of air freshener or a Plug-In or something? Boy, that little thing would make a huge impact in many people’s perceptions of that hotel if they did.

Anyway, it got me thinking about children’s minsitry… don’t ask me how I got to children’s ministry from a stinky bathroom. What are the areas in our children’s ministry that we are overlooking? What are the “duh” things that parents and kids need that we just aren’t seeing? We get so caught up in our programs, environments, curriculum, events, etc. that sometimes we miss the most obvious of things. Now, I’m not saying that all that stuff isn’t important. It is! And we need to do all those things with excellence. I just think that we need to make sure that we have something in place to help us see those areas that we overlook. Maybe it’s enlisting a group of people to come and check out children’s ministry from time to time and take note of things. Maybe it’s putting together a focus group of parents and kids to find out what they are needing from children’s ministry. Maybe it’s as simple as spending a few more intentional minutes talking to kids and parents before or after a service to gauge where they are at.

I, for one, plan on coming up with some sort of system to help our children’s ministry be the best it can be and the most relevant it can be. I want to supply the kids and families we serve with “air freshener.”

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Keeping Focused

March 7, 2008

I really like Seth Godin’s blog as you can probably tell from this previous post. I just read his post for today. You can check it out here. He just posts some thoughts on losing focus and how easy it is to stop being remarkable for the sake of expediency. It just had me thinking about ministry and how so many times we try to do so much to “meet the needs” of people. We start programs here and there without having the time or energy to do them with excellence. Better to do a few things with excellence and be extraordinary rather than a lot of things with mediocrity. That sometimes means cutting back on the number of “outreaches” that are done or the number of programs or events that are done. It means constantly evaluating what you are doing in ministry, making sure that what you are doing is done with excellence. As that happens, bring people on board expecting excellence from them so they can contribute to what is done and build it as well as being built themselves…

What are your thoughts on Seth’s post? How does it apply to your ministry?