Have you ever stopped to answer the question: What is children’s ministry?
If you work in “children’s ministry,” you’ve probably got a pretty good idea of what it is, but have you noticed that those who don’t work on staff in children’s ministry have wildly different ideas of what it actually is? Even parents and volunteers sometimes actually don’t understand exactly what we’re trying to do.
As I work with churches around the country and interact with leaders at conferences, I find that sometimes even children’s pastors and directors have never actually stopped to define exactly what it is that they do.
So … what is “children’s ministry”?
Here’s how we define children’s ministry (or “KidMin” if you’d rather):
Partnering with parents to guide kids toward a HEART for God.
There are three elements to this definition;
Partnering with parents
• Parents are designed to be and usually are the primary influence in a child’s spiritual formation. Therefore …
• If we are not intentionally partnering with them, then most of what we do is fairly irrelevant in the spiritual life of the child.
• It doesn’t matter what model you gravitate toward (traditional children’s ministry, Orange, D6 … whatever) children’s ministry is family ministry; family ministry is children’s ministry. And we can forge effective partnerships in any model. The best model is more about the environment and leadership of your church.
To guide kids
• In the end, both parents and those of us in the church are guides. Of course, we need to do all we can to influence children in their faith—and what we do (or don’t do) most definitely influences them—but all of us have a free will to choose, and one day all of us do.
Toward a HEART for God
- Ultimately, spiritual formation is about the heart. This is why:
- It is mentioned hundreds of times and in many different contexts throughout scripture (it’s a great study to do for your devotions—here’s a list of everywhere it’s mentioned).
- We are told: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23
- The “heart” (in scripture) generally encompasses our thinking, our will and our emotions.
- We want the hearts of our kids to lean toward God in all areas of their life so that everything they do is influenced “toward God.”
You may have noticed that HEART is capitalized in our definition. That is because there are five areas we can focus on (H.E.A.R.T.) to help us “guide kids toward a HEART for God” in partnership with parents. Here are links to these posts: