“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”
Ever wondered why Mary is so contrary? Maybe it’s because she battles threatening weeds and pests so her silver bells, cockle shells and pretty maids will grow in a row.
Like Mary, you need to cut down “weeds” and terminate “pests” if you want your children’s ministry to grow. But unlike contrary Mary, weeding out these 10 threats to your program will yield joy.
1. Lack of communication
If people don’t know what’s happening in your ministry they assume nothing of consequence is happening. Refuse to communicate, and your children’s ministry will never be a priority to the church and community. People vital to your ministry need to know what’s going on in order to support the work. If they don’t know about it, they can’t support it.
Talk about your ministry with your pastor, other staff members, volunteers, parents, the community and children. Promote your ministry in church publications, community advertising, and best yet, word of mouth from satisfied participants.
2. Not valuing children
Don’t be guilty of loving your ministry but not loving your children. If you don’t value your children, neither will your church. And if children are treated as second-class citizens in your church, your children’s ministry will suffer. Your ministry won’t receive the space, staffing and budgeting other groups receive.
Validate children as individuals of worth — just as Jesus did. Let your children and church know how much you value kids. For example, do you get at eye level to talk to kids or do you tower over them? Do you call children “rug rats” or other subtly degrading terms?
3. Run-down children’s space
Art Murphy, a children’s minister in Florida, says that cluttered, run-down children’s facilities communicate that little is happening there for children. He says, “A clean, bright, roomy facility cleared of old materials or unused furniture communicates that children are loved, wanted and expected.”
Walk through your children’s space twice. Evaluate it from an adult’s viewpoint, then from a child’s perspective. List needs and make changes!
4. Lone-ranger mentality
If you do it all your way and all by yourself, you not only risk ruining your children’s ministry. You may also ruin yourself.
In Ephesians 4:12, Paul told leaders “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” When you’ve trained and staffed your ministry, it’ll go on reaching children for Christ even when you’re gone.
Multiply your ministry by recruiting willing volunteers to shoulder the work with you.
5. No family ministry
The primary shapers of a child’s development are parents and immediate family. Teaching or caring for children one or two hours a week at church is helpful, but the greatest good happens when you take ministry directly to the whole family. You may be surprised at the needs you’ll see when you look at a family through a child’s eyes.
Develop ministries to reach the entire family, such as home visitation, parent-training courses or family-crisis counseling.