Normally I write strictly to women in ministry. However, I am convinced that Children’s Ministry and Family/Parent Ministry is one of the most important ministries in the church.
I wanted to know more of what was going on inside a Children’s Pastor’s head. I reached out to a large number of CPs on social media and the response was enormous! They are trying, but here are a few things they’d like to tell you, but feel they can’t.
“We’re tired.” Why? Because CPs are normal people just like everyone else. Having the word ‘pastor’ in front of your name doesn’t mean possessing some magic super powers. We are human and we mess up. If there is a problem, please do not talk about us behind our backs (especially in front of your children) but approach us.
“You’re too busy, and so are we.” The number one concern from those CPs I reached out to was busyness. Especially sports. No one seems to be able to serve or be discipled due to sports. Pastors are not against sports and extracurricular activities, our kids do them too. However, it seems that when something better comes along, commitments get broken and ministry goes out the window. The Kingdom of God is suffering because everyone is so ‘busy.’ In turn, pastors are burning out because they have to fill the gaps.
You are the number one influence in your child’s life and we want to help you. If you need help in how to best marginalize your time, ask! We love helping families, not just kids.
“Children’s ministry isn’t childcare.” Even in the nursery, volunteers are focused on not only making sure your child gains knowledge of God’s Word, but that they have an encounter with the Lord too! I know this goes against popular belief, but pastors don’t only work Sundays. It takes CPs weeks, months and years to prep for lessons, retreats, Christmas programs, Easter services, and discipleship.
“Ask before donating your ‘treasures.'” Oops! Are we allowed to say that?
When someone out grows a material item in their home, their first thought is, “I know, kids church can use this!” Please ask first. I find stuff all the time dumped in our kids area because a good hearted person wanted to help. Once I had a donation of blocks. Harmless, right? Until my two-year-old opened the package and the smell of cigarette smoke poured out. So . . . yeah, ask first.
“One piece of GMO candy a week will not hurt.” I’m a mom too, I get wanting to make sure your child is/stays healthy. Once I had a parent tell her child to give me back the (very small) piece of candy she earned because their family didn’t eat candy. I was heartbroken. Not for the rejection of my gift (ok, kinda), but for the child. You could see the brokenness in their eyes. I understand not having a halloween sack of candy being brought home every Sunday, but candy is a child’s love language. Please allow us (and them) this small token of fun. If you are still not ok with candy (or the CP really does give out too much), approach them with these Yummy Earth candies. They have suckers, hard candies, and jelly beans. Our kids church doesn’t give out candy often, but when we do, these are parent approved alternatives. They taste AWESOME. If they are too expensive for your small church’s budget, maybe offer to purchase some for them.
“Please stop asking your kids if they had fun when you pick them up from service.” Do we want them to have fun? Of course! But remember, we are fighting against an entertainment culture. Children’s churches are trying the best they can to be interactive, engaging, all while hoping they have an encounter with Jesus. Children’s Pastors are up against music, social media, TV, ipods, ipads, gaming systems, and so on. How can we complete? We can’t. The more screen time a child has, the more ‘stuff’ they have, the less ‘fun’ church is. Please help by cutting back on screen time. Instead of asking if church was fun, ask what God taught them.
“We love you and your kids!” All pastors have a heart’s desire is to see your child grow into a full functioning adult. Children’s Pastors are not just thinking about your child this week. They are thinking about what they want them to be like 10-15 years from now. That’s why they do what they do, and teach what they teach. To help them later as adults. And parents can’t do it alone, that’s what’s so great about kids church. Someone other than mom and dad reiterating what is taught at home.
The hope is that relationships will be built with your child, so when you are going through the tough middle school and teen years, you have other adults who have your back. When my daughter turns 16 and there is a boy who catches her eye, I hope she will trust me enough to talk to me. However, that might not happen. How awesome will it be that she has relationships built with our kids ministers from a young age that she can confide in. Ministers that I trust that can help lead her in the right direction. Kids will go somewhere to talk to someone- either inside the church, or outside.
Thank you for taking the time to understand a Children’s Pastor’s world for just a few minutes. You may never walk in a CP’s shoes, but thank you for trying them on. Just remember that all Children’s Pastor’s want to serve you as the parent and see your child grow into a full functioning adult that is on fire for Jesus.
We love you!