Friday, November 21, 2014

Pastor Stuff: Tilling the soil for kids...

In the past few years I've been at my church I've come across a bevy of different challenges which have prompted me to evaluate, step in, and tackle.  However, there has been no greater challenge than to grasp the ministry of kids.

Kids are important.  Many people in church don't deny it.  In fact, if you were to take a survey of churches across North America I'm fairly certain many will say that children's ministry is one of the most important things for a church.

Deuteronomy 6: 4-12 most explicitly tells us the importance of children's ministry.  Moses tells us we are to pass the faith along to our children.  Most poignantly, it places that responsibility upon the family.  That's tough.

Being alive in the technological age it seems that more and more people are becoming busier with their lives.  We have a preoccupation with busyness.  Everything in life starts to flash before you and before you know it, you're looking into the mirror and seeing a face with droopy eyes and tiredness (at least for me).

Truth be told though, what I understand more now than ever is that ministry shouldn't be that.  It shouldn't be fried rice, but rather crockpot cooking.  It's slow.  It plods.  It progresses at pace which is often counter intuitive to the culture around us.

So in the approach to Children's ministry I live by this philosophy, and seek to marinate our kids with the Word.  Here are some things we've done as a result:

  1. Pick a curriculum to use... for a minimum of six years.  Yes, you read that right.  For Sunday School our kids use the Great Commission Publishing curriculum.  There are a few reasons for the six year commitment.
    1. It's because of it's design.  We're building a foundation for our kids and it's important to realize that curriculum is designed with that in mind.  The natural cycle for kids in elementary range between 5-6 years of school.  As such, they ought to have a parallel experience of Christian education.  
    2. If you're skipping around from one curriculum to another you lose something in the consistency of the teaching.  Lessons may overlap going from one curriculum to another.
    3. You can train your teachers through the same system.  Alleviating some aggravation or murmuring over learning a new thing when it's tried and tested.
  2. We moved the outreach program closer to church.  Geography matters.  
    1. When you work 40+ miles away and your church is 5+ miles the opposite way from home a centralization of ministry can greatly benefit your opportunities to reach out to the community.  
    2. This is both strategic for outreach as well as strategic for the teachers.  We minister to both teachers and students so when you centralize it all it gives an impression of having a "home base" of operations in which you can keep tabs on people and care for them.  
    3. Also, inviting a kid and their family to church becomes much easier when it's right around the block from where you're doing your outreach.
  3. We brought in AWANA, though any suitable program will do for the weekend.  
    1. If kids have a pattern of coming out for church on the weekend they can anticipate growing up in the church around familiar people and their transition to youth group can be more naturally occurring.
    2. Parents also benefit from this in having opportunities to be without their kids for a few hours, developing trust with the teachers at church, and other changes to evangelize to other parents.
    3. If the kids enjoy it they'll be more likely to try to convince their parents to take them to church.  There are so few hours in which they have an opportunity to learn about Christ in the church context (it's less than 10% compared to the plethora of other things they do) you have to seize the chance to preach Christ to them.
There are so many other points to talk about on the topic I can't even start to articulate it all in a short post, but I'd love to hear how others are doing it and what other blessings they've experienced as a result.

For us, God has given us an opportunity to reach out to our community with the gospel and as a result we are starting to see some fruit.  Though it's tough, sometimes you have to ride the wave of resistance to allow for people to have an opportunity to rejoice over God's work.  

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