We just returned from a short term missions trip to South Africa. While there, we had the opportunity to spend some time at Kruger National Park. It was a great experience, one that allowed us to see wild animals in their natural environment.
But it isn’t always easy to spot them. There is 12000 square miles of nothing but African wild lands with a few roads connecting a few tourist villages. As you drive along the road, you’re looking out into this wilderness hoping to spot an animal. Of course, we found one of the best ways was to use binoculars, which allowed us to create focal points.
A focal point is defined as “the center of interest or activity”. If you see the picture of the leopard (my favorite animal…we saw one for about 5 seconds!), you’ll see how the leopard is focused – the focal point of the picture. The background is blurred, so your attention is naturally drawn to the leopard.
In children’s ministry, we also need to create focal points. I believe KidMin is the most complex ministry in the church, but we can keep it relatively simple by using focal points to maintain our focus on what’s important.
What are these focal points? There’s many ways to define them, and they might change depending on the event, the purpose or the season. But overall, here are what I believe the overarching focal points ought to be for children’s ministry:
- Equipping. For children’s ministry leaders (staff & core leadership) I believe our primary focal point must be “to equip God’s people to to do His work and build up the church” (Ephesians 4:12, NLT). First & foremost, we’ve got to help others do the work of ministry.
- Engaging. For children’s ministry volunteers, I believe the primary focal point must be engaging children for life change. This is what we (leaders) should be equipping them to do. Engaging children involves the way we teach, the relationships we create, connecting what happens at church with what happens at home, and much, much more.
- Embracing. For parents, I believe the focal point must be embracing their responsibility for the spiritual formation of their children. Again, we as leaders have a role in equipping them, and volunteers have a role in connecting church to home, but parents must understand that they are primarily responsible for the discipleship of their own children.
Amidst the complexity that is children’s ministry, it really is very simple. Keeping these focal points in mind will help us keep what’s important within the framework of our daily activity. When we do this, everything else fades to the background and becomes relatively unimportant.