In Focus

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Follow this helpful guide to developing a
mission-driven children’s ministry.

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Throughout the 20th century, psychologists, historians, and
sociologists have sought an answer to how people survived the death
camps of Nazi Germany. Viktor Frankl, an Austrian survivor and
psychologist, concluded that while several factors — health,
strength, family structure, and survival skills — were important,
the single most noted factor was a sense of vision for the
future.

These survivors had something else important to do — a mission to
perform. The power of a mission is incredible. Research indicates
that children, teams, and organizations with a strong sense of
mission outperform those without a sense of mission. Those who
overcome, succeed, and make a difference must have a strong sense
of having something important to do — a mission to perform.

In his book First Things First, Stephen Covey gives the following
definition of what mission is all about: “Mission is the ability to
see beyond our present reality, to create, to invent what does not
yet exist, to become what we not yet are.”

In other words we must begin with the end in mind. What’s the
goal? How do we achieve that goal? What priorities must we focus
on?

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ROOM WITHOUT A VIEW
The problem that besets so many leaders is a limited view. We tend
to make choices based on what’s right in front of us. We become
reactionaries instead of planners and thinkers. We react to
whatever is critical at the moment.

Our moods and feelings cause us to change from day to day. If we
feel good today, then everything else is good, but if our feelings
are hurt, then we many times lose sight of our mission. We miss the
big picture; we see a fragment of things.

A partial view of mission is as problematic as missing the whole
picture. Partial vision of where we’re going can lead to imbalance
and making choices based upon others’ expectations instead of upon
lasting principles.

CLEARING THE FOREST
Where are you in your overall mission in life? Do you have a
mission statement for your ministry? Once you’ve established that,
then develop a mission statement for yourself and for your family.
See “Developing a Family Mission Statement” for help.

This article is more than just principles; I want to help you walk
through a step-by-step procedure to develop a mission statement for
your ministry. If you know your mission, you’ll focus your passion
– and you’ll impact your ministry.

1. What’s your purpose? Your first step is to discover
your purpose in ministering to children. First, list the basic
concepts and beliefs that you and those around you can live by.
Your beliefs may look something like these:

•Children are the legacy and heritage of the church. Each of us
should invest our time and resources to minister to them at their
level.

•The church body should recognize that children are a part of the
church of today so children can learn what it means to be a part of
the body of Christ.

•The primary responsibility for training Christian children lies
within the family. The church must provide training and spiritual
support for parents.

•Opportunities should be created to help children develop happy,
peaceful memories at church so they’ll want to return to church as
they mature into adulthood.

•People who work with children in the church are ministers to
children and should have a burden for them. The church body should
also pray for and encourage teachers and parents in their
tasks.

•Teachers should teach by their individual modeling, their
personal example, and their heartfelt attitudes.

•To make a lifelong impact, the church should provide an
atmosphere of unconditional love, while at the same time teaching
children appropriate Christian boundaries.

2. What characterizes your ministry? Next, list the
things that you want to characterize your ministries, programs, and
ministers. Make it personal to your church. Your characteristics
may look like these:

•Teachers and lay ministers should be trained to meet the unique
needs and learning styles of children.

•Programs for children should provide opportunities to learn and
solidify biblical values, ethics, and lifestyle.

•To teach effectively, teachers need to receive training about
age-level characteristics.

•Some of our programs need to have the sole purpose of providing
happy, peaceful memories of church and God.

•Training and support programs for parents should emphasize
parenting as a covenant with God. The church should provide a
parenting model, a Christian community, and information on
Christian parenting.

3. What’s your biblical basis? Biblical support for your
mission statement provides the bedrock when storms come and try to
destroy your ministry. List key verses from Scripture to back up
what you believe to be your purpose and to support the
characteristics of your ministry.

Key verses that may apply include:

•Deuteronomy 11:19-”Teach them to your children…”

•Proverbs 22:6-”Train a child in the way he should go…”

•Matthew 19:14-”Let the little children come to me…”

4. What’s your mission statement? Now that you’ve thought
through your purpose, characteristics, and biblical basis, write
the first draft of your mission statement.

Don’t write your mission statement to please someone else. Look at
yourself, see your talents, know your abilities, admit your
weaknesses, and write what describes who you, your church, and your
ministry are really all about.

Here’s an example of a mission statement from Northview Christian
Life in Carmel, Indiana: “The children’s ministry of Northview
Christian Life will provide an atmosphere of community with
appropriate Christian boundaries enveloped in unconditional love
that creates in our children happy, peaceful memories built around
Christ and his church. We will do this by teaching for life change;
modeling biblical behavior; and encouraging, training, and
supporting the parents and teachers of our children.”

5. How will you communicate your vision? Once you have your
written mission statement, find key statements that you can use to
communicate your vision. These key statements will support your
mission as you highlight them around your office, classrooms, or
church.

Here are sample key statements:

•”The point is not to give a new lesson, but to teach for life
change.”-Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, The 7 Laws of the Learner

•”The high calling of Christian parents is to be faith trainers-to
make a good ‘pass’ to their children, who will carry the baton of
faith into the next generation.”-Dr. Joe White, Faith Training Your
Children

6. Do you do what you said you do? Bathe your mission
statement in complete assessment and evaluation. Where are we now?
Where do we want to go from here? How do we make changes? How do we
arrive at our goal? Take a regular look at each of your ministries
and programs. Ask yourself the hard questions. Is this program
meeting the needs of the children and the teachers? Does this
ministry fulfill its mission in developing young people in the
Lord?

When first there is mission, then there’s opportunity for
effectiveness. When your mission becomes your motivating force,
you’ll be a minister who’s impassioned about a mission that’s
higher than yourself. For a staff on mission, petty things become
unimportant as people are motivated by something that’s bigger than
themselves. Your mission will be the foundation upon which you make
daily and long-term decisions.

History books are filled with the names of people who suffered and
encountered resistance. But nobody faced greater obstruction,
hardship, struggle, scorn, and suffering than Jesus Christ. And
nobody had a greater mission to fulfill than our Lord and Savior.
Follow his example and, in turn, be an example to those around you
by knowing your mission and focusing your passion.

Lon Flippo is a children’s ministries consultant in
Springfield, Missouri.

DEVELOPING A FAMILY MISSION STATEMENT

To determine your family’s purpose, follow this process from The
Family-Friendly Church by Ben Freudenburg and Rick Lawrence (Group
Publishing, Inc.).

Answer these questions:

1. What’s the most important mission or goal for families to work
toward?

2. Why should family members work at growing closer as a
family?

3. What can the following family members do to build a strong
family: mothers? fathers? children?

4. What does the family do to support and strengthen its family
members?

5. What would be missing in our world if families ceased to
exist?

6. How have you seen families celebrating the joy of being
family?

Once you’ve brainstormed answers to these six questions about
families in general, shift your attention to your family in
particular.

Crafting Your Family’s Mission

1. What’s the most important mission or goal for our family to be
working toward?

2. Currently, what’s our family’s overriding purpose?

3. Why do we care about our family?

4. What does our family do to support and strengthen its
members?

5. What would be missing in the world if our family ceased to
exist?

Now, using all the information you’ve gathered, get together to
write the reason your family exists-in 25 words or less. Voila! One
made-to-order family mission statement. (Consider having your
mission statement written in calligraphy on nice paper, then framed
and placed in your home for all to see.)

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