Equipping and Releasing
"If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." You've heard that before, right? What does that have to do with Children's Ministry? As a Children's Pastor, I think of it this way- If we do Children's Ministry for the kids, we are raising church goers. If we teach the kids to do the ministry, we are raising church leaders.
Have you ever heard an adult say that they can't volunteer in the Children's Ministry because they need to "be fed" by the Word in the adult service? It's not their fault. Maybe they were never taught how to feed themselves the Word. That's why we must address this issue in the 4 to 14 window. Kids must be taught how to connect to Jesus at home, at school, and anywhere else they go. Then, I believe we must equip them to do the ministry. If we teach the kids that the Children's Ministry is their ministry and they are the leaders of this ministry, they are more likely to take ownership of the church when they are older.
Many adults choose a church like they choose a restaurant. They look at the menu to see what services are provided for their "eating" needs. Does the church have a vital Children's Ministry? Does the church have lively music? Does the church feed me what I like to eat in the way that I can digest it best? It's not their fault. The Church must continually equip and release in order to demonstrate an atmosphere where you can particpate and serve, instead of a place where you sit and receive. How do we do that? I'm not sure, but I am exploring ways to start that in the Chidlren's Ministry.
We do not see the kids as people to serve, but as an army to train. We do not hand them the Word of God in a digestible manner each week, we teach them to read the word at home, prepare, and preach on Sunday. We do not do ministry to the kids, but equip them to pray over others. It's a mind-shift for me as a Children's Pastor. Each week is a fun equipping challenge. Children are not the church of the future. They are the church of today. Hopefully when we release them, we have prepared them to not only "be fed" but to feed the masses.
*photo by Natureworks at www.morguefile.com