Boy, has my philosophy of children’s ministry changed since motherhood!
I was the first Children’s Minister on staff and it was my first paid staff position. When I started, there were lots of expectations about what my job would include. There were a few parents who thought I would primarily provide Christian entertainment for kids. But I pushed back, and didn’t start programs unless it would disciple current children or reach new children and I had a core group of parents’ support.
My philosophy at the time was parents and members supported the Children’s Ministry of the church. Not bad, right?
I put lots of pressure on my parents, moms especially, to serve in the church. (Oh, how I appreciate those moms so much more now that I’m in their place.)
Together, the staff, volunteers, and parents, created and implemented some great programs that brought lots of children and their families into our church.
We had a few parenting classes and sermon series, because the staff knew the parents were the primary influencers in the home and wanted them to have training. But mostly the parents relied on me to disciple their children.
Later, while in para church children’s ministry, I wrote two family devotional books. These were designed for parents to lead their children through a devotion once a week. (You would think I knew a little bit about the discipleship of children in the Christian faith.)
Fast forward to today, I have a 3 and 5 year old who I spent little time on doing traditional discipleship. I pray with them before school, at meals, and before bed. We read the Bible together or do a devotional a couple of times a month.
I struggle to provide enriching opportunities to disciple my own children. And I feel guilt because I don’t measure up to my own expectations.
The Paradigm Shift
If I were on staff today, my ministry philosophy would be, “The church and children’s ministry supports the parents and members ministry in the home and community.” Now, I believe the preparation inside the church and small groups provides the Biblical foundation for families to create programming to disciple their children and minister to their community. More blog posts to follow on this…
In practical terms, now I understand how hard it is for parents to disciple their children. Children’s Ministry programs/activities/initiatives need to fit into the context of the family for moms and dads to make it a regular part of their life style. I’m talking about integrating discipleship into what your family is already doing or where God had placed you.
Here a few ways I have started integrating discipleship into our lives…
- I wake the boys up singing “Rise and Shine” or a scripture verse that I have put to a tune.
- I pray for them aloud, at a particular traffic light, on the way to school. I paraphrase Psalm 19:14 and say, “God, let our words and thoughts be pleasing to you today”.
- We just started memorizing Romans 8 as a family, because I have an accountability group holding me accountable.
- This month we are counting God’s gifts at dinner with a Thankful Tree.
- I have replaced evening TV time with Christian videos. Most recently we have started the What’s in the Bible? series. (More about these later!)
So here is my encouragement…
- Look at your day and think of simple ways that you can integrate discipleship into your normal routine.
- Find out what your children are learning at church and reinforce the learning at home.
- Make a list of what you want your children to learn about their Christian faith: how to treat others, What’s in the Bible?, how to become a Christian, serving others, etc…, then create ways to teach those concepts to your children. LifeWay Kids has a great free resource called Levels of Biblical Learning
- Please, share your ideas with us.
Because I love the series What’s in the Bible? from VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer, I have signed up to become an affiliate and promote the series on my blog. Over the next couple of weeks, I will have some very special posts.