Early childhood/Preschool ministry is extremely important for laying a spiritual foundation in little ones, but we often think that true spiritual growth can’t really start happening until the grade school years. Even if staff people comprehend the concept, the laypeople in the church have definitely not wrapped their minds around the impact that pouring into the lives of preschoolers can have on the church and on eternity. So, how do we go from the bulk of the church (and many volunteers) thinking that preschool ministry is basically corralling the kids while services and programs take place for older kids and adults … to grasping how critical it is to begin their lifelong journey with Christ as Savior and Lord from the day each little one takes their first breath?
There are several strategies for approaching the slow and steady mindset shift, but right now I want to share with you about one—Monday Stories. In order for people to believe that preschool ministry is worth resources, time, training, and commitment, they have to be educated that something is happening. Even though they’re not in the rooms telling stories, playing games, changing diapers, dishing up Cheerios, or singing songs, they need to connect with what’s taking place in those rooms. That’s where Monday Stories come in.
What’s a Monday Story?
It’s the story you start telling each Monday about one particular positive thing that happened on Sunday when you were with the kids. And you keep telling that story over and over and over again throughout the week, anytime you get a new audience. You post it on Facebook (your page and the church’s page). You talk about it with the parents of those kids. You mention it when you’re in life group with other adults and you’re sharing how God is on the move. Excitedly, you bring it up when you’re out to lunch with friends and when you’re doing chores around the church. Anyone who will engage you in conversation, for any reason, is a candidate for hearing your Monday Story.
What happened on Sunday that was evidence that God is working in the life of a preschooler? In order to share a Monday Story, you need to personally raise your antennae and open your eyes. You need to be more aware of what’s happening in their lives. Monday Stories don’t have to be earth-shaking, life-changing events. They simply need to be joy moments when you notice little ones taking steps toward Jesus.
What happens when you make sharing Monday Stories a habit?
Lots! First of all, it changes you. You start looking at the kids you lead with anticipation for how their hearts and minds are being molded to reach for God. Things that you normally wouldn’t notice now become something you hold onto. When you weekly see results—no matter how small—it increases the value you
put on preparing and leading. You don’t need someone else thanking you for serving or encouraging you, because the Monday Story you come away with is the boost you need and God’s way of saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Secondly, it’s contagious. I recently had a children’s pastor share with me that she had decided to implement Monday Stories as part of her week. Repeatedly, she shared the tidbit of how God was moving among the preschoolers when it was her turn to share in the church staff meetings. Instead of going through the bullet points of the agenda, it set a refreshing positive tone for each meeting. The youth pastor saw the impact it was having and adopted the practice in respect to the youth. Anyone can share Monday Stories!
Third, it educates. Monday Stories aren’t a once-a-year occurrence. Each week you’re pointing out the growth you’re noticing. Those people who are hearing the stories can’t help but realize that preschoolers are capable of growing in remarkably profound spiritual ways. It’s one of the best ways to dispel the notion that preschool ministry is only babysitting.
Next, Monday Stories draw people into preschool ministry. People want to be involved where things are happening and where they know they can make a difference. One story won’t do it. But when you consistently share a variety of things about different kids, recruiting is easier. When people have heard about the great experiences that are taking place—how kids are both enjoying and growing spiritually, and team members are leading them through steps of spiritual growth—they’re willing to step in where it’s obvious God is working.
And fifth, Monday Stories have a snowball effect of making it easier for parishioners to invite guests with preschoolers. They can insure the families they’re inviting that their children will have a great experience, because they’ve heard the stories of what’s happening in that ministry.
Monday Stories don’t cost a thing, but they have a huge impact! Open your eyes, ears, and heart this coming Sunday so you’ll be ready on Monday to start elevating preschool ministry in the eyes of those who aren’t sure how the little ones are growing closer to God with each experience.
Here are some of my recent Monday Stories.
During our worship time, one 6-year-old boy always closes his eyes anytime we sing “Good, Good Father.” He’s done that since the day we introduced it. Today, as the song began, there was boys on each side of him who were being somewhat distracting. He quietly moved to the side of the room where he closed his eyes and continued to worship. That said a lot about what was important to him at that moment and that he wasn’t going to give it up. I love to see these moments of spiritual growth … and I also love that the other leaders are recognizing it too.
A parent sent me a short video this afternoon of her youngest daughter (who is in the toddler nursery) singing. “Tell the world that Jesus lives!”
We had a 7-year-old and two 6-year-olds lead our worship in kids’ church today (kindergarten through 5th grade). It was the first time for all three and they introduced two new songs. Killed it! I just stepped back and basically said, “Let ‘er rip, tater chip!” I’m sure God was enjoying the celebration, and it was amazing to watch how the three kids took ownership in what they were doing. This was serious stuff to them—my heart is full.
A sister and brother put up a lemonade stand, complete with fruit kabobs, cake pops, and cookies they had worked on for days. It was one of the most successful lemonade stands I’d ever heard of with each of the kids making over $36. After separating the coins into two identical piles, and without prompting from any adult, their first question was, “Can you help us figure out how much to give to the church?” They brought their sandwich bags of coins to place their first tithe in the offering plate that next Sunday.