Heart Matters: Welcome Aboard

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God knew exactly what the kids at your church
needed, and he gave them you.

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My daughter Sarah just became a children’s pastor. She calls or
e-mails me almost every day with questions and concerns. For my
beloved Sarah and all people new to this adventure called
children’s ministry, here’s my advice for the novice children’s
pastor.

Relax! My pastor is always telling our staff, “You are
ministering/performing for an audience of One.” Relax. Jesus is
your target group. Do what you can to please him, and things will
work out. He understands your mistakes and victories, and he’s
rooting for you. Relax in the Lord. He knew exactly what the kids
at your church needed, and he gave them you.

Pray without ceasing. The success of your children’s ministry is
not dependent on your ability to manipulate a puppet or draw chalk
pictures. Your success or failure can always be traced to your
prayer life. Typically, a person disciplined in prayer will also be
disciplined in lesson preparation. Pray for God’s favor to rest
upon the kids, the workers, and your service.

Keep everything simple. Three-point homiletical sermons with
reference to the Greek origins of words may cut it in the seniors’
Sunday school class, but not in the kids’ class. Use a simple one-
or two-word theme and hit on that theme throughout an entire
service or lesson. Every puppet, song, and object lesson must
present again your simple theme.

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Learn to serve. The church is not there to serve you. Oh sure,
they now provide a bit of finances for that black hole called your
budget, but you haven’t been hired to suck them dry. Serve the
body. Take on the mind of Christ. He became a servant setting an
example for every children’s pastor young or old. You must learn
early in your pastorate to serve the church. Does a toilet need
cleaning or a teacher need assistance carrying boxes into the
building? Serve as Christ would serve. Has the pastor requested
your presence at a monthly seniors’ banquet? Serve the seniors.
There is no job beneath the children’s pastor who has learned to
serve.

Sunday is coming. It’s amazing how many “professional” children’s
pastors wait until Saturday night to develop their Sunday morning
materials. Sunday comes at the same time each week, and you can be
ready before it comes. Saturday night specials will work for a time
for the extremely creative personality. Be certain of this, though:
The children will find you out. Kids know when a leader is
unprepared; they tend to take advantage of the situation. What I am
talking about is simple time management. Working a little each day
will drive the panic away. The basic truth that Sunday is coming
will set you free.

Be kind to everyone. The unforgiving trustee or the angry parent
may end up serving by your side in children’s ministry some day.
Some of my best helpers have been people whom no other ministry
wanted. Some of my closest friends and faithful workers in the
church have been those I’ve had to confront.

You are not the Lord of the harvest. Jesus said, “I will build my
church.” He never promised to build Dick Gruber’s church. He never
commanded me to build his church. A long time ago, my friend Bob
Hahn told me, “Jesus cares more about the kids than you do. Pray
and let him provide the workers you need.” Pray to the Lord of the
harvest. He will send the laborers who’ll minister to you and your
children.

Finally, enjoy your calling. God has given you the greatest
calling that can be had by humankind. You are a minister to
children. You are shaping the church of today and Christian leaders
of the future. God will help you. I am praying that you will enjoy
God’s blessings as you’re faithful to minister to his
children.

Dick Gruber is a children’s pastor in Bloomington,
Minnesota.

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