We are All Called to Serve in Children’s Ministry – by Rev. Kristen Price
The kids are dismissed from worship. They run down the aisles to head to their ministry, where the music will be loud, high energy games will be played, puppets will teach the Bible story, crafts will get a little messy, and kids will explore the Bible in ways you never imagined. Leaders are high energy, up and down with the kids, dancing and jumping around, doing all they can to share the Gospel with the kids, ending up exhausted by the end of the morning. You think, ‘I am so glad I am not down there today’, or ‘how I wish I could still keep up with them.’ Children’s ministry can be one of the most hands on, high energy ministry there is and it does take special God given gifts to serve in this ministry. But does it? Through my time in serving as a children’s pastor, many have told me they can’t serve in this ministry for various reasons: “I am too old”; “I have served my time in kids ministry and nursery it is time to move on”; “I just don’t understand kids these days”; and “You are all just too crazy and loud for me”. The list can go on and on. I try to ask myself this question, “Well how else can people serve in our ministry?”
There are many ways to serve in children’s ministry, without ever stepping foot into the church basement, or kids ministry wing.
There are the obvious ones: provide financial support to those ministries, donate any supplies they need, pray for the families, kids and leaders. But there is a more hands on way that you can serve each and every Sunday.
When a family walks into a church, what do you do? Welcome the parents, have some small talk with them, help them find their seats, and move on to conversing with the next person. What if you took a moment before welcoming the parents and welcomed the kids first, taking an interest in them before speaking with the parents. This is not just saying ‘hello’, but asking their names, and a question to engage them. I have found that interacting with the kids first shows parents that you care for their family as a whole.
You see a young mom and dad struggling to keep their kids quiet and engaged during the service. What do you do? Most of us would probably just stay seated and do our best to keep our focus on what is happening upfront. But what if you took a moment out of worship to help those parents be able to worship? Take their baby for a walk, bring a small toy or colouring page to the older kids. (The one thing I suggest to not do is remind them there is a nursery.) Show the parents that you are not trying to get rid of the kid so you can focus, but that you are engaging their whole family in worship. Sacrifice a moment for them by giving parents a moment where they can just focus on God without distraction. This moment could mean the world to them.
Then there is the time before and after our worship services where adults are talking and kids are often doing their own thing Sometimes we get frustrated with the kids running around, being loud and crazy. I think of one gentleman in my church. He takes a moment, which then turns into many, and interacts with the kids. He jokes with them, plays with them, gets them into trouble with their parents (in a good/silly way). He has become like grandpa to these kids. It has been beautiful to watch it develop. He may not understand the impact that he is having on these kids, or even their parents, but it is huge. He is missed when he is not at church. He is serving in children’s ministry without stepping foot into their domain of the church.
Children’s ministry in the stereotypical method is not for everyone, but we can all be part of it. From a simple hello, to a joke, to taking a crying baby, we can all do our part to serve future generations and show them God’s love. God has all called us to serve him faithfully, and with everything we have (Deuteronomy 11:13). Our words and actions will speak far further than sitting back and watching the kids of our churches run to their ministries. By engaging children and parents we are inviting them into our faith, our church and our life. So remind yourself that the next time a kid or family comes into your church, you too, can serve in children’s ministry.