maturing children’s ministry dreams

Do you have a dream for your children’s ministry? For your church? Is it clear? Can it be translated into specific action steps? Is it impossible for you in the natural, but spot-on realistic for God Almighty who loves to do the impossible through regular people like you and me?

When I first took leadership over a children’s ministry at my first church, I had a dream of leading as many kids to Jesus as I could and helping them grow close to God. A great dream. A lofty one. Yet, not fully matured.

I originally began working with children at a young age. During the summers of my sophomore and junior years in high school I worked at a daycare with toddlers through 6th grade. As a freshman in college I began working in a local church’s mid-week kids church. There is a story about being thrown to the wolves which I thought about including here, but I won’t this time…. Yet, I will say that the years which followed laid the groundwork leading up to my first appointment to leadership. It helped me to refine my dream of making disciples of the youngest among us. Still, something was missing, but I was not sure what it was.

When I began serving at my current church, I was excited about recruiting, developing and leading teams of people to impact children, both in our church and from the neighborhood. There were great successes, and a few heart-breaks along the way. Fourteen years later I have undergone some major changes in my practices and thinking. I am still as committed as ever to leading children to Jesus and helping them grow in faith maturity. But, I have finally begun to realize that the center of gravity in making this a reality is not on the church campus. Rather, it is in the home. Or, it should be. So, my dream has matured and refined, mixing practical realities with childlike faith that God can do the impossible. Want to see it?

I dream of turning the hearts of parents and children to God and to each other in Christ.

Now for the expected objection to this dream…. Yes, I know that lots of families do not fit the traditional cultural ideal of two parents and one or more children. Of course, if we are honest with ourselves, even two-parent households have a hard time living up to the billing “ideal.” The sooner we lose the “ideal” label the better off we all will be. Not because I don’t think that people who have children ought to marry first and be faithful spouses to each other and loving parents. Of course not. Rather, I think the label creates a distraction from unrealistic expectations of perfection rather than a helpful description.

I think the dream quoted above is relevant to families of all circumstances. It speaks of turning hearts to God and to each other in Christ. So, there is the spiritual component and the natural relational component. It goes back to making disciples and helping them mature. Yet now the center of gravity is transferred to the home, with the church serving as a place of refuge and a spiritual support, both to those who are trying to fulfill this dream, and to those who do not yet perceive its importance.

What dreams do you have for your children’s ministry? Begin praying now. Write them down. Talk with your pastor, your church parents, even the children in your church. Watch God to begin something special in your midst.

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