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The New Deal

Karl Bastian

Giving Away a Children's Ministry

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 mind.

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 on.

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.

"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 it.
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