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Ruined Church: The Surprising Impact of Working in Children’s Ministry

ruined church

Working in children’s ministry ruined church for me. Seriously. At the church in Athens, Georgia, where I attended, worked, and volunteered, I was about as committed as humanly possible. I served with the Teaching Team (outlining the weekly sermons and series as well as trying to keep our pastor on track), the Creative Team (designing and building the environments for said series), and the Youth Ministry (coming in on Wednesdays, team-teaching with two other adults).

Plus, I took to the “pulpit” on Sundays sometimes to greet, welcome, and generally act like a loon. I was as busy as many of the paid staff. But I steered clear of one area: Kids Ministry.

When it was time to repaint and refurbish kidmin rooms so they looked less industrial and more inviting, I pitched in. When it was time to clean up the play areas so they’d be safe, I was there. But that was it. I drew the line in the sandbox at working directly with children. Until…

How KidMin Ruined Church for Me

The Family Minister held a luncheon one Sunday for all volunteers who served under his areas. It was early May, and he wanted to outline some needs for the upcoming summer. One specific area he mentioned was Children’s Ministry.

Because most adult volunteers were also school teachers during the academic year, he made an impassioned plea. It would be the height of Christian generosity and lovingkindness if we could give them a full summer off: no teaching in school, no teaching at church.

Given how many of us were present that afternoon, the numbers were clear. If we all signed up, we’d each have to serve only two to three Sundays during only one of the services, during a three-month stretch.

So being the sucker/wonderful person I am, I signed up. “Why not,” I thought. “I won’t be doing this by myself. Other adults will be present to talk to while I just supervise the game room. It won’t be that bad. Plus, it won’t last that long.”

How That Turned Out: Ruined Church

Jump cut to a year and a half later… I was still serving people half my size and a third of my age week in and week out, sometimes by myself, during both church services, thereby effectively causing me to miss worship for months on end. Other volunteers backed out a week into our “fill-in” run. The “we need you” card was played repeatedly. Although it frustrated me, I felt like I was at times being used unappreciatively as a free servant, that’s not what ultimately ruined church for me.

It was the kids. The third- through fifth-graders I worked with modeled what church is supposed to be about.