Dear Children’s Pastor,
I feel the need to write to you today. I know the burden you are facing.
It’s Saturday afternoon and the majority of Pastors across the nation are taking a deep breath before their church’s seats and pews are full of those looking for a taste of Heaven on Earth tomorrow morning. Many of those who will be leading your ministry teams tomorrow are spending the day with their families; some are reviewing tomorrow’s lesson plan for the last time while others, of course, are picking it up for the first time. Choir members are taking the day to relax. Greeters are spending the afternoon grocery shopping and working on their gardens. Custodians are napping.
Why are you working?
Today, kids in your program will have baseball games. They’ll be involved in community plays and recitals. Schools will be holding fundraisers. Children will have birthday parties. Like so many in our field, you’re invited to show up to many of these events. And, because you love the families you minister to, you’re trying to figure out a way to fit it all in.
My advice to you, when you find yourself on a day like today, is EASY:
Empower. Accept. Say. Yes.
You are not an army of one… you are a member of an army of one. The church is called to act as one body… but you’re getting in the way of other member’s callings when you try to do everything. Have you ever thought of that? You need to empower others on your ministry team to invest time and energy into building relationships with your church’s families outside of program hours. You need to equip your leaders with tools needed to build those relationships. Do your leaders know the names of the parents in your ministry? Have you considered putting parents’ names on your kids’ name tags? On your sign in/out sheets? Give your leaders the tools to get to know parents so that they can be the ones going to games, recitals, and other activities you feel the need to do on your own.
When you allow others to do ministry, you need to accept that you may not get the glory you think you deserve. Allowing members of your team to build relationships with your church’s families can be a humbling experience, but it can be a HUGE step in the direction of finding rest and staying fresh in the ministry you’ve been called to.
This step should come before, during, and after you begin the process of empowering your leaders. You need to say, time and time again, a vision that casts the roll of your team leaders as the primary hands and feet of your church’s ministry. Parents need to place a high value on the relationship between their child’s Sunday School teacher (or whatever title your ministry uses) and their child. Without this, many parents may shy away from inviting children’s ministry team members into their family’s life… remember: good ideas don’t sell themselves. You must cast value before vision.
Do the kids you minister to know that you have a life that exists out of church? The answer to this question needs to be: yes. You need to model what it looks like when a person of faith grows into adulthood. If the only picture of an adult Christian that the children in your ministry see is one that is exhausted, lonely, and frustrated… you’re letting them down. Show them that those in ministry can have healthy families. Show them that those who are called to serve God do find rest. Show them the value of taking a Sabbath. Show them that, yes, you do have a life. It will give them hope.
My friend, it is not easy to live this out… but remembering the steps to take are right in front of your eyes. Many of us are paid to do what we are doing, and we feel the pressure to work far more than we often should. Please remember this: when you do work too much, you are getting in the way of others who are called to serve and you are setting a poor example for the children you minister to.
Keep the faith. Love the mission. Live your calling.
Your partner in Christ,
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