As you make your New Year’s resolutions, resolve to do these five things, and you’ll open the door to better children’s ministry.
Resolutions. We’ve all made them at some point or another. Most likely, though, our resolutions were things we wanted to happen — mere wishes — and not things we were intentionally committing ourselves to pursue.
Lose weight. Get fit. Read more. Spend more time with the kids. Whatever they may be, our resolutions are usually pretty good ideas. They’re things that, if they did happen, would greatly benefit us in some way or another. Unfortunately, we often don’t follow through, and resolutions become regrets.
In children’s ministry, as in any area of life, there are goals worth pursuing. Goals that, if committed to, would greatly benefit our ministry to kids. There are resolutions worth making, and I encourage you to consider making these five simple resolutions as you minister to kids.
Resolution #1: Immerse my ministry in prayer.
Oswald Chambers once said, “Prayer does not equip us for the greater works, prayer is the greater work.” Our ministry to kids should flow from our time with God! Jesus, throughout the gospels, demonstrates this principle. What did Jesus do before times of great ministry? He went away somewhere, usually during his “off” time, and prayed. If Jesus needed to pray to minister effectively, how much more so do we?
You don’t know what to pray for? Follow Jesus’ example from John 17. Jesus started by praying for himself, then he prayed for those around him (his disciples), and then for the community of believers as a whole. This is a great model to follow as we pray for ourselves in children’s ministry, for other children’s ministry team members, and for the kids and families we minister to. As we do this, our ministry will flow from God through us and be more effective than we could ever imagine.
Resolution #2: Understand the kids I minister to.
As a preschool Sunday school teacher, do you know the age-level characteristics of preschoolers? As a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher, do you understand some of the challenges of ministering to this age group? And do you know what causes little Johnny to be so quiet and aloof in your second-grade class? Have you found out about his family life? What do you know about personality types? learning styles?
To truly minister to children, understanding all these areas is critical. As one who’s called to children’s ministry, it’s your obligation to invest time and effort into understanding kids. Add a few minutes every week to your preparation time to learn about who kids are. Perhaps you could visit the family of one of your kids each week or every two weeks to get to know that child’s world. A general understanding will revolutionize your perception of your kids and the way you present yourself and your teaching.
Resolution #3: Develop my ministry skills.
All of us can improve in most areas, and ministry is no exception. The question is, “Are we actively pursuing improvement?” Here are three easy ways to proactively develop your children’s ministry skills.
l Read. There are many wonderful written resources to help us develop our leadership or teaching skills. (For recommendations, go to www.cmmag.com.) Commit to reading just a small amount every day, or one resource per month; you’ll be surprised how much you can learn and what new ideas might find their way to your teaching.
- Attend at least one training event each year. Attending a training event not only exposes you to the content presented, but also to networking opportunities with those who are in the trenches with you. Attending just one event can make a big difference.
- Find someone who knows more than you do. Finding a mentor can often make the difference between ongoing frustration and critical skill development in your ministry. Don’t be afraid to ask someone with more experience and a greater understanding to help you learn.
Resolution #4: Create new and deeper relationships.
Ministry happens best through relationships — period! In fact, if it comes down to following a program (or curriculum) or investing in relationships, the latter should win out every time. If this is true, then we as children’s ministers need to invest ourselves in building relationships with kids, parents, and each other. Two easy ways to build relationships are to take time with each individual to ask questions and listen carefully, and be open to share yourself with the person. Authentic relationships result in deeper, more meaningful ministry.
Resolution #5: Serve with passion.
What a privilege it is to serve in children’s ministry! Now, more than ever, we need to reach kids. Are you committed to this calling? Are you serving passionately with a sense of urgency, or are you serving more from a sense of duty — going through the motions because no one else will take your place? Children’s ministry is a vital ministry in your church, deserving and demanding passionate servants. If you’re called to children’s ministry, you must pour yourself out for the little ones you serve. And for those times when your passion is waning, return to resolution #1. When your ministry is immersed in prayer, it’s hard not to serve with passion.
Resolutions. There are some that are worth resolving to do. Commit to these five resolutions this year and see how your ministry grows, how you grow, and how you can have a deep impact on the lives of children in your ministry.
Greg Baird is founder and director of Kids In Focus Ministries, a children’s ministry training and coaching organization based in San Diego.
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