As I began to prepare to enter into a new season of my life as a Children’s Ministry Director, I started to question why the Lord would choose me. I sat down at the empty desk on my first day at the job and began to question what it would take and how I would invest in children so they may taste and see God’s love and then enter and grow in a relationship with Jesus. I didn’t even know where to begin. I quickly found out that Children’s Ministry can be quite simple but can have an incredible eternal impact in the lives of kids.
Let me begin by sharing a story about a girl I know all too well. This past fall, my daughter Tatum began Kindergarten in what she called a giant school. She masked her uncertainly with her friendly personality as she entered into school on the first day. Tatum has never met a stranger so she quickly made friends even fast friends with the class bully. About November, she began to come home in tears because of the sneaky lies this child was feeding her. As a family we began to pray with her every morning so that she could muster up enough courage to actually get out of the car and enter the classroom. My child who loved school, became fearful and began to question her identity. In January, she joined a small group of girls at our church. Her leader began to teach her that she was God’s masterpiece. Alongside her leader, Tatum took part in activities and read stories to explore how she was uniquely created for His purpose. Tatum began to cling to Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Her leader simply took the time to invest in her and remind her of her identity in Christ. The days of crying after school began to cease and instead Tatum now leaps out of the car excited for another day at school. Because of one leader who loved Jesus and loved kids, Tatum now is not only able to stand up to the class bully, but has also began to share God’s love with him.
Tatum’s story is evidence of the lasting impact a leader can have in the lives of children. Most Children’s Ministries only have children for about one hour each week, so you truly have to make every minute count. As you prepare to make an eternal impact, I would challenge you with these simple and strategic steps.
First, pray for God’s wisdom and direction. As leaders we are called to move from a place of rest in Him. Sit and rest with the Lord. Ask Him to give you direction and to lay on your heart his desire for the ministry. Ask and He will give you what you need.
As the Lord begins to share His heart for the ministry, journal your thoughts as you begin to create a mission for your Children’s Ministry. You may even want to begin with your church’s mission statement. How does your church’s overall mission apply to Children’s Ministry? Ask yourself, what do you want to accomplish through this ministry? Keep the end in sight just as if you were a teacher trying to decide what you will teach. A teacher begins with the assessment and standards and then creates lessons. Build a mission statement that clearly articulates what you believe God would have you accomplish through this ministry.
Next, develop relationships. Get to know each and every child in your church and the families they come from. It’s as simple as showing up. Be present in kids’ lives. Families and kids’ won’t care what you have to teach them until you show them how much you care. Find out what makes every child unique, notice the small things like brand new shoes or a special necklace they are wearing, and even show up at their special events like ball games, recitals or performances. For me, I spend time in our local schools to volunteer and see kids on a regular basis. The children and families that I have the deepest relationships with are the ones that I’ve attended a special game or performance. Show your face and show kids they matter to you!
As you develop relationships with kids and families and show them they matter, leaders will begin to surface. God will give you favor with certain parents and leaders within the church. As the Lord brings those people to you, create a leadership team that you can share your mission, equip and encourage. We will take a closer look at what it takes to recruit, equip, encourage and retain leaders in a later blog. The effectiveness of your ministry is determined by the leaders you choose, so therefore be picky as you recruit the main influencers in your kids’ lives.
Lastly, create a safe and exciting environment where children can learn and grow in their relationship with Jesus. Parents need to know their children are safe in your hands and in your classrooms. Create systems to show parents their children will be well cared for so they have the freedom to go and worship without distractions. You may want to look into and build check in systems and policies for leaders and parents. All of these aspects will help you to create a safe environment.
Again, Children’s Ministry can be simple with these strategic steps but the impact is far greater. Eighty five percent of people come to know Jesus between the ages of four and fourteen. It’s time to love and invest in children by being present and consistent. Just as Tatum’s leader invested in her, you have an opportunity to invest in children and have an eternal impact. As you prepare for Children’s Ministry, remember to do for one child what you would want to do for every child.
by Ashley DeMooney / Children’s Ministry Director, Saint Peter’s Church