This past summer, I took on a Director role in the Preschool Ministry at our church. It’s a volunteer position that mostly works with coordinating volunteers to serve as teachers and helpers. God has taught me SO much through this ministry already! But, like any ministry, the blessings don’t come without their own unique challenges. And summertime is notoriously a hard time for volunteers to stay committed–between vacations and summer colds, job changes, relocations and plain ol’ exhaustion from the school year. People need breaks. (That’s why God created rest after all, right?!)
On top of that, our church is in the transition of welcoming a new pastor (whom we love, by the way)! But transition periods are hard for many people–most of us, actually, if we’re honest with ourselves. And some families decide to either step back from ministry or change ministries (or churches) altogether during these transition seasons. And that’s always hard…and a little discouraging. But God is sovereign and bigger than any transition or season! And I’m convinced He provides in every way–including volunteers in kids’ ministry!
My husband and I got married at this church. We’ve been members of this church since before we were married–and we’ve been serving in various aspects of the children’s ministry since shortly after that–about 10 years now. I grew up serving in children’s ministry at my home church; it was a small church and everyone served somewhere–it was just expected. But the church we’re in now is a rather large church, and it’s easy to think you’re not needed. That is far from reality!
Last week, our Children’s Ministry Director asked me to talk to the parents and volunteers about the Vision of Children’s Ministry in our Annual Preschool Meeting. And I thought I’d share it here as well. So, with no further ado, let’s talk vision! We started with prayer that God would raise up more disciple-makers for our children, that they may see and know Jesus. Then I shared My Top 5 Reasons for (or Benefits of) Being a Part of Children’s Ministry:
5. To Develop Friendships and “Frientorships”!
Working in children’s ministry has been a great place to get to know whole families–parents, siblings, cousins. It’s about making connections. We have developed some really neat gospel relationships by teaching in the kids’ ministry. And I’ve learned so much from so many of these brothers and sisters. I’ve learned prayer requests and heard praises from both kids and parents, prayed with and for them, and rejoiced as God grows and unites us together by His grace.
On top of that, we’ve gotten to know our co-laborers. Some of our best friends have come from serving side-by-side, week-after-week, year-after-year in the kids’ ministry. One example is a godly Christian couple who oversaw the upper elementary age volunteers (when we worked with that age group years ago). This couple became our mentors (or “frientors,” as I call them). They’re the people who came to the hospital the day our son arrived; they’re the people who brought us diapers every time we met for coffee or lunch or a walk; they’re the ones that text us just to say they’re praying or asking how we’re doing; they’re the people we can call at 10PM and say, “We don’t know what to do; we really need to talk.” And they’ll say, “Come on over!” without hesitation.
If you’re struggling because you feel like the older women or men in your church aren’t interested in Titus 2 mentoring, consider serving alongside them in the children’s ministry. Or ask them to serve alongside you in the children’s ministry. The “frientorships” will happen! Not overnight, and not with every person you serve next to, but God loves to build redemptive relationships in His body!
4. To Disciple the Next Generation!
One of our pastors has a saying, “Be one. Make one.” He’s talking about discipling. Be a disciple. Make a disciple. If we each are being discipled by one person and make a disciple of one person, the significance is astounding! How many of us have prayed over babies during their baby dedications? Which of those kids are we currently involved in discipling? Are you still praying for those parents?
Please don’t miss out on the GREAT JOY of seeing these kids trust Christ, get baptized, and grow up into Christ-followers! Not long ago, there was a baptism service at our church with nearly a dozen kids, along with a handful of adults. We had tears of joy running down our cheeks because we had taught so many of these kids over the years. It’s amazing to see God working in their lives, calling them to Himself! Most of these kids we taught and mentored before we ever had kids (our only son is about 2 1/2). You don’t have to be a parent to disciple kids–Paul spoke of Titus, Timothy, and Onesimus as his “children in the faith.” III John 1:4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in truth.” I don’t think this only applies to biological or adopted children.
3. To see EACH child as created in HIS image and that He loves each one!
God has a Big Plan to REDEEM these little ones! This is a big concept in the It’s Just a Phase: So Don’t Miss It! book by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy. This book is full of great illustrations and big concepts of how to use each phase for the glory of God in our kids’ lives. Let’s be honest. Some phases are more fun than others. But doesn’t God often use the hard and dark times to grow us even more than the easy ones?! And some kids have more challenging times than others, it seems; but don’t let that deter you from loving them. Remember, we are all unlovable sometimes, and YET…God still loves us because we are created in His image!
Psalm 78:1-7 has been a huge encouragement this past summer, and I’ve claimed it as my Children’s Ministry passage of the year. It talks about the command to share the “glorious deeds of the Lord,” the promises and principles of God, “his might and the wonders he has done,” from generation to generation to generation. And the whole purpose is that our kids might know God and fix their hope in God, that they might not forget (but always remember) His works and commandments, and share them with future generations.
2. To Learn about Jesus on a DEEPER Level!
This might sound counter-intuitive. Teaching kids is simpler, not deeper, right?! Yes, and no. When you teach, you actually learn the material better. And kids will ask you really crazy questions, so be ready! It’s okay if you don’t know every answer–sometimes you have to say, “I don’t know. Let me try to find out and let you know next week,” or “Um. I’m not sure. Why don’t you ask your dad at lunch today?” They definitely keep us on our toes and push us to dig deeper in pursuing Jesus.
Helping with children’s ministry has taught me so much, especially when it comes to being a parent. Our Children’s Ministry Director posts regular tips, resources, and application prompts on social media that encourage us to have a consistent, biblical philosophy at home. In other words, serving in children’s ministry helps me be a more Gospel-filled parent, reminding me to speak of Christ when we sit and walk, when we lie down and rise, at the table and in the tub, at the park or grocery store, at…well, you get it (see Deut. 6:1-7).
Finally, and this may be the biggest reason…
1. To Worship God!
Worship is giving a BIG VIEW of God and His glory! We worship something all the time, in the simplest of acts. Depending on the moment, we might be worshiping God, or we might be worshiping our families, our phones or TV shows, our work, but we all worship something. Worship doesn’t have to only happen by listening to a sermon or being part of a “worship team” on a stage during a song service.
Children’s Ministry IS worship too! Yes, you can worship God by coloring papers, building block towers and playing with Legos, by clapping and singing about how great and big our God is! We get to worship God alongside co-laborers and kids every week, keeping Jesus on our lips, that they might see and savor Jesus for themselves! And we get to see the wonder of God and discover new aspects of His glory as we see their eyes light up, understanding Truth for the first time! It truly is an amazing privilege! We’re not missing it; we’re joining in!
Psalm 95:1-7a says, “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!  Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!  For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.  In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.  The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.  Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!  For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (ESV).
Would you come worship God by serving in your Children’s Ministry and discipling the next generation? I hope you will! One thing’s for sure: you will not regret it! There are so many reasons and benefits of working with kids, but it’s not just about the kids. Ultimately, it’s about God. And working with little image-bearers is a great way to see God’s heart for rescuing us and calling us to repentance and a life of faith because of His “wonderful, never-stopping, never-giving-up, unbreaking, always-and-forever love” (Sally Lloyd-Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible).
If you’re interested in more on this topic, I’ve been encouraged by some really good articles about why we need to stop recruiting every warm body to work in children’s ministry and instead incite passion and vision for the next generation. Here are some examples:
- Why the Church Needs Less Volunteers and More Mentors
- Served or Serving: Curing the Sickness That’s Killing the Church
- 19 Ways to Improve Your Ministry Recruiting
- Are You Following Jesus’ Model for Successful Ministry Recruiting?
- Why You Should Stop Recruiting Everyone to Volunteer
- KidMin Leaders: Stop Recruiting, Start Retaining
Finally, here’s a clip of Melissa J. MacDonald’s Keynote at the CPC17 conference about not quitting children’s ministry. Yes! A thousand times, YES! Do not lose heart! Do not quit! Do not let Satan win! Be a disciple, make a disciple with the next generation! Our kids are worth it to Jesus!