stuff I’m thinking about children’s ministry

  • Expectations are changing, becoming more demanding with less tolerance for a lack of excellence, effort, and relevance. This is true in churches of any size, and is proven in part by an exodus of younger generations from the church traditions of their parents into other traditions, often large regional churches with multiple offerings.
  • As a corollary, expectations often conflict with each other, depending on whose expectations are being considered.
  • As a further corollary, one set of parents may expect one thing, others something else which is contradictory; senior leadership, still another thing; children yet another. We end up managing the expectations of others, sometimes burying our own dreams in the process.
  • One hopes that we will successfully graft theological acumen and faithfulness to Scripture into our skill development, and that it translates into maturing disciples.
  • Sometimes we have to introduce concepts which are not popular, nor perceived as relevant. Yet, they are prophetic in the sense that God is intervening to speak into the lives of people. Prophets, or people whom God gives a challenging message, are seldom welcome voices. Testing the winds of public opinion through focus groups will not serve us well in cases like this. Being obedient to God, and gracious in our message delivery in the context of a consistent godly life will help.
  • Sometimes life hurts. And there is no one who really understands. Except, God of course. Good thing we can talk to him.
  • It helps to have close friends outside of the church we serve. We can say the stuff we need to say without worrying about misunderstandings.
  • An increasing amount of us recognize the need to equip parents, and we feel overwhelmed by the added expectations, and the added resistance from some folks to our efforts.
  • Some of us have enough gray hair to know that it takes a long time to overcome a lifetime of reliance on the church to train up children in the faith. It may take years, even a generation, even a new generation of emerging churches to build a true partnering ethic into the ethos of the local church. Yet, I pray it happens more quickly for the sake of our current generation.
  • I don’t have to be as cool, as talented, as witty, funny, smart, wise, or tech-savvy as my ministry peers. I can be me, comfortable in my own skin, and unapologetic about the unique set of experiences, life-long learning, education, skills, personality and interests that comprise my background. Even if some of that background has absolutely no direct bearing on children’s ministry. Imagine that. I can have a life outside my professional ministry duties. And I can apply my diverse background to my professional role, even if I don’t consider myself a professional, since I am “just a volunteer, and all.”
  • It really annoys me when people say, “I am JUST a volunteer.” Never forget, Jesus was also a volunteer. In obedience to his Father’s will, he willingly laid down his life for us for our benefit.
  • I am allowed to have friends within the local church. Yes, it’s true. It really is.
  • Someday we will talk about powerpoint like we talk about flannelgraph. Indeed, that day is close at hand.
  • We will always have smaller churches, but an increasing percentage of them will be younger, as older congregations continue to close their doors at alarming rates, or merge with other smaller churches, or agree to be annexed into larger congregations, and the like.
  • Some large churches are finding themselves closing sections of their buildings to reduce costs and adjust to people leaving. This is creating a soul-searching, a breaking of old mentalities and comfort zones.
  • Our branding efforts need to be based on substantive content of our faith so that our obedience does not remain cosmetic, but translates into disciple-making service to Jesus Christ, even independent of church-sponsored initiatives.

And that is just a taste of the stuff I’m thinking about children’s ministry, what with me being “just a volunteer” and all. *wink* :)

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