Children's ministers need a champion.
I use the word children's minister in its widest sense - that's everyone who works with children. I like the use of this word and was corrected by my friends in Bethel Church who told me that this is the term they prefer as children's worker does not do justice to what they feel they are bringing into children's lives. It's not work, its ministry from the Father.
Most of you who read this know how important this is, as I doubt you'd be sticking around reading this blog if you felt differently! God wants our churches to reach out to, love on and minister to the young. They have an incredibly high priority to him.
But it feels like an uphill struggle sometimes - do you find you are fighting for space and time for children's and youth work?
When you reflect on your church's services, do you talk about the worship in the service, the response to the Word..................how about a thought being: what was God doing amongst the children/young people? How did the delivery of the Bible go? What was the response like?
I wouldn't ask this because the kids's leaders want a spotlight on them, but because they are seeing encouraging fruit - all over the country when I get the opportunity to speak to others, it's happening - God is moving amongst the young!
But sometimes - let's be honest - churches can have mediocre childrens' ministry, suffering from low expectations, fulfilling the base requirement of the church parents or senior minister or congregation who like it quiet and respectful - or it can be a POWERHOUSE for the kingdom of God to advance amongst the young who we so desperately want to stay in our churches and become fully led into all that God has for them.
Let's "up the ante" on our expectation of what God might do amongst our young. Do you know what? He wants them set free to live victoriously for him. He doesn't want simpering, frightened children who pray thinking that just maybe, someone Up There just might listen to them.
This morning I saw some major stuff kick off. We'd been looking at the call on David's life from a young age, where God saw what was within that others could not see as they were judging on surface appearances. The team were praying over 60 or so kids who had asked God what HE thought of them. They'd heard different words spoken to them by the Holy Spirit as they listened to the track "He says that you're amazing" on Great Big God 3. There were lies that needed broken off these young lives(in a quiet and appropriate manner)as some of the children revealed that they had begun to believe lies about themselves. Some fears and worries came out, and I arranged some liasion with parents after the service (very important, that).
But I and my teams *are* struggling this January. We meet in extraordinarily difficult circumstances (up to 100 children in 2 cold, fairly scabby rooms in a rented facility. No sound system so I was hoarse this morning, and I have a loud voice!). I have skills and knowledge about kids and theology and can think fast on my feet and have a great team, but *I* still need a champion for children. I want to scream from the rooftops that this isn't about personal affirmation, it's support for these precious, precious children, for everything that is attempted with them and for them in the name of Jesus.
At the end of the day, I will get my affirmation from the Father, from sitting/lying at his feet doing my thing, usually with a Bible, some music and hankies (and a cushion!) He's so, so good.
Every church needs a champion for the children/young people, people who are not directly involved who cheer the staff and volunteers on from the side. And sometimes it isn't just cheering from the side, it's a little card, or email, or a listening ear when its most needed. When all is going well, we are so often left to it and then the danger is that the only noise that is made is when there is something going wrong.
Folks get fed up of you if you only talk about the things that are difficult and hard and THAT'S when you really need a champion! They'll speak up for you, email your elders or bring you a cup of tea at the end when there is a queue of people waiting to speak to you, a team to debrief, things to be put away and (yet again) the young child who needs collected and hasn't been.....!
Ecclesiastes talks about how two (people) are better than one. When one is tired, the other lifts them up. I hope and pray that on each church staff and elders team there will be one who will ask regularly what's happening in the world of children and youth ministry, and ask what is needed (I'm hoping for that, as we move buildings. I'm after a luxurious creche, plenty of room and hunnerds of cushions....)
Any church leaders - pop in! Come and see the children. Pop into the youth programme. Speaking personally, you will be remembered for doing that and you might just get a surprise too! (thinking about the Executive Pastor in my place getting deluged by children laying hands on him and praying for him).