The New Deal


Giving Away a Children’s Ministry

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How do you introduce a negotiated partnership with parents to your
church? I started at a congregational meeting. I stood at the
podium to give my report on the children’s ministry, and I told the
congregation I wanted to play a word association game with them: I
would say a phrase and they would name the first image that came to

When I said, “children’s ministry,” the room lit up with smiles. As
I pointed around the room, the adults called out things such as
“Sunday school teachers” and “kids’ church” and “VBS” and so

After a few moments, I said, “Thank you. It’s very encouraging to
have you share so many positive images you have of our children’s
ministry. But I’m curious…did anyone picture their home?”

Dead silence followed.

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“I want to share a Bible verse tonight to encourage you to continue
to bring your kids to our awesome children’s ministry,” I
continued.  “But I have to be honest. I couldn’t find one.
What I did find, though, were a lot of passages about parents
raising their kids to know God.” Then I turned toward my pastor and
said, “I haven’t cleared this with the senior pastor yet, but I’d
like to give up the children’s ministry tonight.”

There were a few gasps, so I quickly added, “No, I’m not resigning
my job; I love my job. But I’m resigning the responsibility for
raising your kids to know, love, and follow God. I’m going to start
asking if there is any way I can volunteer in your
children’s ministry. That’s right, effective immediately. I’m
giving children’s ministry back to you.”

This was the beginning of an inspiring shift in our children’s
ministry. This was the day I gave it away to our parents. From that
day on, I would ask parents, “How’s your children’s ministry
going?” If they gave me a blank look, I’d ask, “How many kids do
you have?” They’d say, “Three,” and I’d say, “Oh, then you have
three kids in your children’s ministry.” And they started to get

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