Friday, September 25, 2009
Refreshing and Blessing Your Kid's Ministry Workers
Sneak peek at some of what I am going to be speaking on at the very end of the Annual Vision Day......I've had two aims for the day all along:
1. to cast once more the vision that outlines the incredible need for well thought out theological teaching on the place of children in our churches
2. for those who are involved with children as parents or kids leaders to be refreshed, to be renewed in their experience of the Father so that they may pass on their experience of this relationship to children who are tired of stories and ritual without relationship. I hope and pray this day will bring significant refreshing for the pastors and leaders/coordinators who will attend.
This is not just written for pastors and group leaders who oversee teams of people who work with children and young people; I have written this for everyone involved in volunteering.
Volunteers are the backbone of the church. Without them, nothing could be achieved. The church is recognised as having the largest unpaid workforce in the world, who should derive satisfaction from what they do.
Here are some practical pointers on what you can do to refresh (bring something new to) and bless (encourage, build up) your volunteers/team. If you are a pastor in a church where your kids/youth volunteers are dropping like flies, try some of these strategies!
1. assist your children’s ministry leaders in the development of a vision. And then, allow them to articulate this to the leadership and to the whole church. Work this out together. What are your theological views on children and their place in the church? Two or more parties going in opposite directions is a recipe for misunderstanding and therefore you won’t be able to refresh and bless your kids’ ministry leaders as easily!
2. give children’s ministry leaders your time – if they phone or email you, make sure you get back to them promptly. (at least follow the 80/20 rule!)
3. Listen, listen and listen. Children’s leaders need to be listened to – please remember that they might spend up to 50-75% of their time outwith the main services; outside of community. Pastors/leaders can tend to listen more to “adult” leaders than to children’s leaders – think of the importance sometimes given to small group leaders or those on the mission field rather than to those who minister to the youngest.
4. ensure your church gives your team money to buy resources. Don’t skimp or moan about costs and do act quickly to reimburse when you receive receipts.
5. arrange annual or termly training and be prepared that this will cost. There are several providers – for example: Scripture Union, individual denominations, New Wine.
Check out: http://kids.new-wine.org/training/
Perhaps you might consider sending key individuals to do a specific children’s ministry module. I particularly recommend “Children and the Church”.
www.icc.ac.uk – website has full details of the children’s ministry specialism or email me for further information (this is the theology degree I completed).
6. Don’t overload children’s ministry team with meetings. Instead of monthly evening meetings, be prepared to talk with individuals on Sunday mornings or help set up and/or chat informally at the end without resorting to “meeting-itis”. Release your team to be the best at what they do.
7. Consider putting on thank-you events or socials for your children’s ministry leaders: examples – pizza and punch night, bowling trip. And yes, they don’t pay!
8. Ensure that church meetings/vestry/session hear reports of what is happening in children’s ministry. Celebrate successes of your team(s). Pray for the children’s leaders in services; not just at holiday club time. Consider this quote from the book “Evangelism - Which Way Now?” It’s pretty stirring.
9. Consider your use of language in the services: how do your volunteers feel if they hear that our worship will begin once the children have left for their own groups? How does this marginalise children?
10. Verbally thank your volunteers, often and go out of your way to pass on encouragements. This sounds so obvious. But it means a lot and it won’t make their heads get big, honest!
11. Pray with and for your volunteers. This again sounds so obvious. There is nothing as special as a senior pastor/pastor/coordinator praying with and for his/her children’s ministry team – in whatever way you are comfortable but in some demonstrable way that expresses your desire for them to be filled with the knowledge of God.
You could use this prayer from Colossians chapter one, verses 9 to 12:
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light
12. Give your volunteers opportunities to encounter God in an experiential and tangible way; you as the reader could be the one to make this happen!
It’s not good to serve long-time in children’s ministry (or any!) without the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Put simply, we run dry. Teach volunteers about the phileo love God has for each of his children – the demonstrated, natural affection of the father to a child which he wants to lavish on each one of us (1 John 3:1)
Then we will do some of numbers 11 and 12 on Saturday :-)