Children’s ministry is often the largest ministry in the church, but its leaders frequently feel alone. Sure, we have our teams of volunteers and more children than we can handle, but when it comes to leading the ministry many of us are disconnected from the rest of the church staff. There is often a huge gap between children’s ministry and adult ministries, and an even larger gap between the children’s ministry leaders and the senior pastor or senior leadership team.
This disconnection brings with it a sense of autonomy. It is a blessing to be able to make decisions without a lot of hoops to jump through. While this is great for running programs, it is an extraordinary hindrance to successfully reaching the next generation for Christ and building a biblical family ministry. Family ministry is all hands on deck. Every ministry of the church needs to engage, and at the end of the day, the senior pastor needs to be a champion for the vision.
Do you want to accelerate the Gospel in your church in and through families? Here are five essential conversations, written in the first person, to have with your senior pastor.
- How can I better partner with our adult ministries to encourage parents to disciple their children?
You know how much I love kids and the passion I have to see them come to Christ. We also know that their parents have more influence on them than anyone else. I would love to do a better job encouraging, equipping, and training parents to disciple their children at home. In order to do that most effectively, I believe we need to work together. What advice would you have, or what direction can you give me, for how I could work more strategically with our men’s, women’s, and adult ministries to equip parents for their job of “making disciples” of their children?
- What opportunities do you see for our church to bring families together?
So much of our ministry is divided by age and life stage. Sometimes it seems that as soon as a family walks in the doors of the church we scatter them into places for discipleship. What would happen if we looked for more opportunities to keep families together to strengthen their faith as a unit, not just as individuals? I want your ideas on this. Perhaps we could consider a quarterly “Generations Sunday School” where parents and grandparents learn together with their kids. What if we took one of our midweek ministry nights each quarter to bring all ages together for a meal and shared Bible teaching? Could some of our adult small groups shift gears and include their children? Could some of our short-term mission trips become family trips? These are just some of the things I have been thinking about. I really want to hear your ideas.
- How can we engage children in our corporate worship service?
The corporate worship service is the most important thing we do as a church. This is the place that everyone gathers in the presence of God, to worship Him, to pray, and to hear His Word. I want the children of our church to love that time and to feel that they belong there. I also think it is important that they connect with you and our other preaching pastors. Do you have any ideas for how we can help our children (and their parents) engage in worship?
Note: I realize this is a controversial issue, and I encourage you to read my full article on this subject in the Jul/Aug issue of K Magazine.
- Can you help shepherd and encourage my team and my volunteers?
You know how many hours our volunteers put in to make our children’s ministry happen. Many of them eventually get burned out. But the bigger issue is that many of them are struggling in their relationships at home. They are struggling in their marriages and in their families. They give so much to the kids here at church, but are having a hard time with their own kids at home. Would it ever be possible for you to take some time and offer some teaching and encouragement for our team on how we can live for Christ at home with our families?
Here is the fifth question, and it may be the most important.
- What is our doctrinal foundation for family ministry?
I am pursuing family ministry for many reasons. I believe it will be more effective in reaching this next generation for Christ. I believe that passing faith to kids is primarily the job of the family, with the support of the local church. But most importantly, I believe it is biblical. In order for us to truly accelerate the Gospel in and through our families, this needs to be grounded in theology, doctrine, and Scripture. Would you be willing to lead a process in the coming months to identify some essential biblical foundations regarding the role of the family in the Great Commission? For instance, do we believe that the Bible teaches that parents should be the primary spiritual leaders of their children? How did the early church minister to families? What is the biblical role of fathers? Mothers? Grandparents? If I have a strong biblical base, which is shared by the staff, and preached to the church, all our ministries can partner together and deepen our impact.
Working alone is great for some things, but not ministry, and especially not family ministry in the local church. Building a close relationship with your senior pastor and the adult ministry leaders is challenging, time consuming, and often frustrating. But the alternative, solo ministry, is not only inadequate, but unbiblical.
May God bless you as you seek to partner with your fellow leaders and pastors to reach the coming generations for the glory of God!