by Bev Robertson/ June 29, 2016
Children’s ministry is not just about kids, it’s about families. It’s about helping families to understand that the church is established to pastor and teach the family as a whole. There are three things that I wish parents would understand about children’s ministry:
First, children’s ministry and family ministry is a partnership between parents and the children’s ministry team. The role of the children’s pastor and ministry team is to partner with the parent or guardian in laying a solid foundation of young faith and an understanding of who God is.
Often parents feel that all spiritual training should come from the church. However, the ministry team may only have exposure to the child for 1-3 hours per week. A children’s pastor’s role is to come alongside of parents in the spiritual training of the child.
We know, of course, that this is a “perfect world” scenario. Many children do not have spiritual teaching or training in the home. Some live in dysfunction. The role of the children’s pastor is vital in those types of situations, and the ministry team needs to do all that’s possible to ensure the time that is spent is quality.
Secondly, parents need to understand that the preschool and elementary years are crucial in spiritual formation. Studies have shown that children whose families are faithful in church attendance will determine how they view God by the age of nine! Nine short years could determine the spiritual path of a person, and the decisions that children make during those formative years often impact adulthood.
Parents often see the need for their children to excel in education, in sports, or in extra curricular activities and do not give attention to the their spiritual understanding or growth. In the inner nature of every child, there is the need to please God and to be accepted by God. It is often in the formative years that the desire to know and please God becomes a part of thoughts and understanding.
When spiritual training from both parents and church are applied to a child’s life, often distractions or false ideologies in high school, college, and adult years do not cause the person to waiver from the foundation of faith acquired during the childhood years. That is the hope for every child that attends our church.
And finally, when the children’s ministry team joins forces with parents, a strong bond is created. There are many ways to create that bond. Good communication between parents and their children’s leaders is crucial. As a children’s pastor for over 15 years, I encouraged parents to communicate with me during the week if there were questions, concerns, if resources were needed, or if prayer was needed. Social media, texts, emails, phone calls or visits are all modes of communication that helps keep a children’s pastor connected with families. It seems that often parents do not view children’s pastors and leaders as approachable outside of church service times.
Another way to bond with the children’s pastor and team is to simply serve the children’s department in some capacity. Often parents or grandparents find a sense of community when volunteering in the children’s ministry. Other adults with like interests and who have children come together to make not only a powerful team, but can make friendships within the core of the church.
Community is developed for adults and children as well, when families serve together in the church through serving the children. Not only do parents serve, find community, and impact children’s lives, but often an example is set for other parents and teen helpers to get involved. A children’s pastor’s greatest need is simply volunteers with a passion to make a difference in a child’s life. When parents step in to minister and teach, it fulfills not only a need in the church, but it also fulfills the Great Commission!