Don't Call Me a Children's Pastor
My husband and I met because of children’s ministry. Brian volunteered at MorningStar Ministries (Fort Mill, South Carolina) in the Kid’s Ministry every week. I was the Director of Family Ministries at the Vineyard Church in Campbellsville, Kentucky. We met through friends at a conference at MorningStar and married 6 months later. Despite the fact that I had been paid for years to be in charge of the kid’s ministry, I tried everything I could to avoid being labeled a children’s pastor.
I felt embarrassed to be employed by a church as a Children's Pastor because I thought it sounded like a balloon-animal clown job. I knew I was capable of doing great things, but being labeled a children’s pastor seemed like I was accepting a position as a glorified babysitter. Why in the world would a church ask me to be their children’s pastor when I devalued the position so much? Probably because they saw a calling on my life that I wasn’t fully ready to embrace. I had a lot of great ideas about the value of kids and how a kid’s ministry should operate, but I wanted someone else to execute my plan.
I didn’t want to volunteer in the kid’s wing because the adult service was more fun for me. I didn’t understand kids. I hated playing games, doing hand motions with songs, and doing crafts of any sort. One of my friends once said that volunteering in the kid’s wing was like a prison sentence, a description many parents can relate to. The question is: If adults hate being in the kid’s wing, then how do the kids feel? Are they bored? Unmotivated? Are they waiting for the clock to turn to noon so they can escape their “prison sentence?” I remember feeling that “prison sentence” throughout my own childhood. I remember feeling like I was able to do what the adults could do and I didn’t want to be treated like I was on a waiting bench, waiting to turn into an adult before I could do anything valuable.
Thankfully, my views of children’s ministry have changed. I’ve learned that instead of treating Children’s Church like a playgroup, it can be a place to empower the kids to pick up the ministry for themselves. We still need the adults, of course, but the goal can be to make the kid’s wing the place where the “stuff” of the Kingdom happens. This is where you go to get prayer, to get your spiritual battery charged. This is the place where people wish they could be because it’s fun, life-giving, and you leave with more vision than you came with.
My husband Brian and I have a vision to teach kids how to be teachers, worship leaders, and ministry teams. Here are some ways that vision becomes a reality:
1. We want to teach kids to be their own worship band. We give the kids the instruments and organize a band of 8-12 year olds who have a heart to lead other kids in musical worship. How cool would it be to walk into a class where the band consists of one adult, a 9- year -old guitarist, an 8year -old keyboard player, a 10- year- old drummer, and choir of kids of all ages? You would be excited to drop your kid off there. You would want to stay and take videos with your phone. You would ask the adult volunteers how to get your precious angel into guitar lessons so they could be on that stage.
We want to teach kids how to preach (tell good news) to others. We teach skills about giving speeches, sharing what’s on your heart, organizing a teaching to share with a large group, and speaking to one other person about what God’s doing in your life. How neat would it be if your child was asked to be the 10 -minute speaker at children’s church on Sunday because they had a powerful story to share? What if the pastor overheard how powerful your kid’s teaching was and they were asked to speak to the adult church next Sunday? What if the things your kid was sharing with their friends was causing a revival to stir up in the Elementary School in your town?
We want to teach kids how to be a ministry team. We teach them how to pray over others. We teach them how to hear from God and deliver a prophetic word. We teach them how to lay hands on the sick and command healing in Jesus’ name. How would you feel if you saw your little munchkin laying hands on another kid, praying for them with all fervor, and seeing them weep under the power of the Holy Spirit? What if your kid walked up to a person at the grocery and gave them a prophetic encouragement and asked to pray for them?
There’s more! Can’t get adult volunteers to do practical tasks around church? Why can’t the kids be the greeters, the set up crew, the check-in staff, and volunteers in the nursery? I am not suggesting that you don’t need the adults. Of course you do! My point is that kids don’t have to wait until they are adults to “do the stuff.” Kids can be the visible leaders in the Kid’s Wing, along with the adults. We can raise the bar for the kids and then give them the opportunity to live up to higher goals. They crave this opportunity, and ultimately, they will prove how valuable they can be.
This is the kind of Children’s Ministry that makes me proud to be called a Children’s Minister. This is the kind of Sunday experience that I want my kids to grow up in. This is what I’m called to do and why I am no longer ashamed to be called a Children’s Pastor.
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