If I could change one thing about children’s ministry, it would be church attendance. Kidmins may be the most un-churched people in the church.
Four myths that make us think kidmins aren’t allowed to sit down (in church):
The nature of children’s ministry is organized chaos. You don’t get the luxury of an RSVP for the babies class, but that doesn’t mean that there should be chaos when 10 babies show up instead of the 6 for which you had planned. How do you break out of this exhausting cycle of last-minute adjusting/filling in? Your pastor comes to you and says, “I want you to start coming to the services.” Come up with a plan. It won’t happen over night, but that’s okay.
I LOVE KIDS! Okay, kids are great because they’re easy. You can win over a kid with little effort and they will looooove you for it. Adults are so high maintenance. Don’t hide in the nursery. Put yourself on the rotation to teach/be in the nursery, but schedule yourself for the corporate worship service for most weeks. It’s easy to be excluded from the “real life” friendships. You are “the glorified babysitter” that’s taking care of the kids of the people you WOULD be friends with…but, it’s okay because you looooove the kids? Wrong. Stop projecting that on yourself.
I’m paid to outwork everyone else. You may be able to “do it all” depending on the size of your church, but you aren’t called to “do it all.” Yes, it looks GREAT when you are busting your bum for every tiny detail. “She’s such a hard worker.” “Man, she never sits down.” This will catch up with you. You will either take it out on the same people who are admiring your efforts, your family, the kids…or yourself. And, let’s just be honest…you’re gonna take it out on yourself. For some reason, culture puts a gold star on this. Like, as long as you don’t take it out on church members, it’s okay. Guess what? You are a church member. Stop it.
It’s easier to just do it myself. You’re right. It is…for a minute. You are probably better at crafts than the average church member, but don’t limit your ministry by controlling/leading every aspect. Let the eyes and ears in the body of Christ connect in a way that shapes “your” ministry area. Set up a system that doesn’t need you at any given moment. Train people. Train people. Train people! When you have that accomplished, go to the sanctuary and worship corporately. Carry your Bible. Listen to the sermon. Take notes.
Some quick notes to pastors/elders/deacons/leadership:
Please (!!!) require regular church attendance of your kidmin. Not just the 6:30am service that no young families attend. Make it the service that their family can attend together…where their husbands/kids/friends/grandkids are happy to be.
Make it something that your entire congregation understands and supports.
Don’t let your kidmin get trapped in putting out fires every Sunday morning. You don’t get down from the pulpit and ask for volunteers to take up the offering. There’s a system…and more importantly a volunteer that provides leadership with that. Encourage your kidmin (and her/his support staff) to come up with the same type of plans.
Is your kidmin the only ministerial staff not involved in the worship service? Especially if they are female…send a message to the kids/teens/adults at your church that their feminine perspectives and leadership is welcomed and desired. Prayer, scripture reading, introductions, kids messages #oldschool, announcements, etc.
When you have a kidmin who doesn’t get the mental/emotional break to worship corporately, you have a staff person missing out on something that God does not want them to miss out on. Now, this is a super convenient…cause, well…she’s keeping the children and parents happy. What a perfect disguise. See past it just in case she’s too busy putting out fires to see past it.
Now…I could add ten different disclaimers. Unfortunately, I have had to learn most of these the hard way. I didn’t even know it was broken till I found myself in a season with no ministry responsibilities. There are some nursery volunteers and staff that are just as un-churched. The kidmin who decides to start going to church is not trying to get out of work. This takes MORE work. It takes a pastor’s support and defense. It takes planning ahead. It takes a shift in the culture of children’s ministry.
So here is my question…for pastors and church members: Is your children’s minister un-churched? Is that okay with you? How will you help?