“I’m not sure who started the war—kidmin or stumin? Doesn’t matter. It’s time to end it and work together.”
All of us in ministry are on the same team, at least we are supposed to be!
1 Corinthians 12:14-19 tells us there are many different parts of the body of Christ, but we exist for the same purpose. If you look in these verses you’ll see three main points. First, you see that every part of the body is needed and is important. Second, there is no place for jealousy in the body! And third, God knew what He was doing by creating different parts of the body by His own design. We might have different callings or interests but we ALL have the same purpose.
The other day I was looking at some different posts on Twitter and after reading some #kidmin posts, a few #stumin or #youthmin posts, and some of the blogs they were connected to, I felt led to do my own Tweet … “I’m not sure who started the war, kidmin or stumin? Doesn’t matter. It’s time to end it and work together.” I got several reTweets and comments, but the fact is, it’s time we started working together to reach the family. As long as parents have children to parent, I want to help them succeed, no matter what age they are.
Ephesians 4:11-12 says, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” I‘ve looked from cover to cover and I can’t find the title Children’s or Youth Pastor mentioned in the Bible. We both exist to serve and help our pastors. We might work with different age groups, but the purpose is the same! Proverbs 22:6 tells us to, “Train up a child in the way he should go. Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” The message of this verse doesn’t stop in children’s ministry; it extends to the youth department and beyond. What we do to train children from thirteen to age eighteen is just as important to the process as what we do from three years old until twelve. My good friend Mark Harper says, “If children don’t make close friends at church during fourth, fifth and sixth grade, they will not stay plugged in to the church youth group.” I agree with Mark that the things we do with children have lasting effects.
Structure is an amazing study to me. One of the cool things about getting to travel to different churches is to see how they organize and structure their different ministries. For some reason, a lot of churches like to do what they have always done. Because of this, they have what they have always had. Just because you adopt a model for a season doesn’t mean you are married to it forever. There are many models to choose from today; most I have found are a re-naming or re-positioning of older models. Also, I see that many people are moving to a family ministry model but they have not spent time defining what family ministry looks like to them. So they end up putting the family ministry name on an old Christian education model. What you do to aid and assist the family is more important to me than what you call it.
Since we are part of the same family we must practice family living. Judgment must start with us. 1 Peter 4:17 says, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” It’s up to us to pray, search our hearts, and ask God to show us areas where we have an “Us vs. Them” mentality. It’s time to be all “us” when it comes to helping the family reach their children, no matter what age their children are. We all have to decide to support one another. Commit to pray for the youth ministry team. Offer help to them. Use your talents, abilities, and gifts to serve them. Ask for their help and input. Learn to practice Romans 12:15 and rejoice with the accomplishments of each other. Dare to be an encourager; even better yet, dare to be a friend. Proverbs 18:24 tells us, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin. But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
It’s also important for youth and children’s ministers to learn to share joyfully. In most churches it is a necessity to have to share rooms or facilities. That’s also true for resources and even workers. We should always go out of our way to share ideas. For this spirit of sharing to really exist, there must be a willingness to confront wrong thinking and actions and act as a peacemaker (Romans 12:18). Admit when there is a problem and always be willing to work out all differences.
There have been problems on both sides. Children’s ministers don’t just dislike youth pastors, most youth pastors don’t esteem children’s ministers, either. Neither do others in the church. When you boil it down, our society at large does not esteem those who work with children. It’s a shame what we pay teachers in our country. But we must do more than talk about it; we must give others a reason to esteem us! I think it’s time for youth pastors to view children’s ministry as a feeder program and work alongside the children’s ministry to help strengthen it, with their students helping out and learning about serving. The problem is we children’s ministers see our ministry as an end, instead of part of the preparation process.
As a team we must prepare kids for youth ministry. The youth minister must prepare kids for college and life as a young adult. There is a big difference between renovation and new construction. In new construction, each trade works together to build what’s on the blueprints, and they do it together! It’s up to each of us to remember our enemy is the devil not each other.
With all these things in mind, here are five things that we all should be working on together in order to help families succeed.
1. Start with the end in mind and work backwards to build a plan that will give your pastor the end result that he desires—to turn children and teens into adult believers in your local church.
2. Create in children and students a hunger for the Word of God. There is a difference in Bible knowledge and a hunger for the Word. Love for the Word builds a love for Jesus. It’s more important that your young people love Jesus even more than they love your church.
3. Help children and students understand the importance of spiritual service.
Desire to train children for a lifetime of service. The “way they should go” includes serving and ministering to others! I just don’t know why more churches don’t realize that farm clubs work in more than major league baseball. Children’s ministry should feed everything the youth ministry is doing. In addition, youth ministry should use the children’s ministry as a training ground for teaching teens about serving.
4. Watch out for sibling rivalry. Speak highly of each other’s programs and help each other be better. Instill in the kids a healthy dose of anticipation for being a part of the next ministry. How you lead laterally is just as important as how you lead in any other direction. Don’t compete for all the attention of the pastor and the budget of the church, but do everything possible to make everyone on the team look good! Don’t think for one minute that you build your self-worth by cutting down another minister. Don’t hog all the resources. Settle disagreements fast. This is a key for any lasting relationship.
5. Work together to connect with parents. Remember Deut. 6:6-7, “These commandments, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” Both teens and young children need models at home! They both need consistency and intentionality to leave a mark. Parents must take back the time that God declared was theirs—morning, bedtime, travel, and time at home.
Who wins when the children and youth pastors work together? Everybody does, especially the family!