Children’s Ministry — not a walk in the park
… unless you really ARE taking the kids for a walk in the park.
Let’s be honest – children’s ministry can be rewarding, fun and creative outlet.
But children’s ministry can also be not-very-rewarding, hard work and routine.
How many of us have heard (or made) excuses like …
“I can’t work this year. I’m burned out.”
“Those kids are too noisy/energetic/mouthy. That’s not my gift.”
“I’ll come back when you have more control.”
The thing is that in the middle of all the ark-shaped cookies, the enthusiastic singing, the successful lesson (when kids really “get it”), there are very, VERY hard moments.
*the moment a child confides in you about a mind-numbing situation at her house.
*the moment you have to tell those rambunctious fifth-graders (for the 99th time) to settle down, (Yes, you know about the five-count and three-count and have used both successfully, but you also know there is NO ONE waiting for these boys at home.)
*the moment you realize the lesson is over these kids’ heads – they have NO Bible knowledge.
*the moment a child throws a mega-tantrum because she doesn’t get her own way.
*the moment you greet the child at the door, a horrible odor wafting from her body, a half-eaten, smushed hot dog clutched in her hand.
*the moment two teachers/leaders get into an argument because they can’t agree on the color of the decorations for the girls’ dress-up tea.
Maybe you’ve experienced 90 of these minutes in one night.
Because ministry is hard. Yet sometimes we are surprised when the difficulties pop up. We expect a class of sweet, hands-folded, verses-learned, know-all-the-answers perfect children.
Not going to happen. And even when we do have a sweet, delightful child, who does all things well, he/she probably doesn’t need us. Dad and Mom are already doing an excellent job.
Our ministry comes down to this – we’re mostly in it for the struggling child, the misbehaving child, the child who doesn’t “get it.”
And that takes effort—
*Effort to work with the struggling child and let him know how much you care.
*Effort to find someone to walk along side the misbehaving child and guide him toward right choices and behavior.
*Effort to be patient with the child who doesn’t “get it” until she does get it.
God never called us to an easy life.
*Do you think it was easy for Stephen when the members of the Sanhedrin “ground their teeth at him” and eventually stoned him? (Acts 7:54-60)
*Do you think Paul’s ministry was easy? Do you think as he ministered in those streets of Ephesus that it was a “walk in the park” as he preached against the town’s tourist attraction (Artemis’ temple) and was eventually thrown into prison. (Acts 19:27)
*Do you think Epaphroditus had an easy time? He put so much effort into serving the Lord, he almost died. (Philippians 2:25-30)
Yet, one or two unruly kids (or nights with several unruly kids), or one disagreement or one messed-up lesson and we’re often ready to give up.
My challenge to you (and to me) is to willingly put in the effort this year to do our job well and enthusiastically no matter how difficult it is to do so.
And to not give up.
Remember what Paul wrote to the those in the Corinth church – Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. (2 Corinthians 4:1)