We live out grace and truth by identifying with one another through the heart-changing words “Me, too!” Here’s how to transform the heart of your ministry from perfect programs to rooted relationships.
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Tony loves being a children’s minister. His church is passionate about reaching kids of all ages with the good news of Jesus so they become lifelong disciples. When kids and families show up, Tony connects them with dynamic volunteers who serve in the ministry regularly. He believes programming must creatively engage kids in Bible lessons. He’s also crystal clear that having fun can’t be the ultimate win; he ensures the teaching and discussion time always focus on heart comprehension and life application. All in all, Tony leads a great, vibrant children’s ministry. But lately, Tony’s been lying awake at night, bothered by some significant questions.
Spiritually speaking, how much is sticking with the kids?
Why are most families okay with attending once in a while instead of weekly?
How is it that team members struggle to serve for more than one ministry season?
Why are so many kids still uprooting their church ties after graduation?
What’s missing? What could we change so our kids and families find deeper connection to their faith?
Relationships Are More Than a Spiritual “You Are Here Sticker”
Think of the last time you stood in front of a map on the wall somewhere. Whether you were at a rest stop on a road trip or at the bottom of the escalators at the mall, you did what everyone does: You looked for a big dot or an arrow that indicates where you are. It makes sense. It’s important to know your location before moving forward to wherever you’d like to go. Identifying your starting point is helpful in making it through life, both in this world and as disciples of Jesus.
However, there’s a temptation in today’s churches and children’s ministries to focus on “You Are Here” rather than the ongoing relational discipleship journey we’re on together. It’s easier to point out who’s present, monitor beliefs and behaviors, diagnose where people stand with God, and point them toward their next spiritual step. Of course we want to build relationships—but it takes time and can be messier than we’d like to admit. Efficiency gets in the way of relational roots.
Far from our desires and intentions, “You Are Here” discipleship is a label that communicates Jesus—without community. It tells the truth instead of talking about it. It runs programs without going deep personally, and it rewards being right over life-giving relationships. Frankly, it can be easier to put exhaustive effort into exciting and entertaining experiences for kids and families than it is to establish meaningful relationships.
Like Tony, you may be wondering what shifts you can make in your children’s ministry for the sake of lifelong discipleship. Many factors contribute to the challenges you’re facing, but there’s one dimension of disciple making that never changes and desperately needs your attention. It’s life-on-life relationships. Let’s stop handing out spiritual “You Are Here” stickers. Your ministry can embed the heart-changing power of “me too” so kids have a greater opportunity to get relationally rooted and stay spiritually connected.