What is your aim?

As children’s ministry workers, what are we aiming for? What do we hope will be the outcome from our teaching  in the long-term? In other words, what sort of adults do we hope our children will become?

Over at the WhyMissionaries blog, Wanda has put a lot of thought into answering this. Looking at the whole child in every aspect – spiritual, emotional, social, mental and physical – she has begun a list of goals.

Wanda says:

As we pray, plan, develop and implement ministry for children do we ever stop and ask who we want that child to be when he is an adult? I believe asking this question will make a big difference in how we do ministry to children.

Below is my beginning list. I’m sure it will grow and change – if I’ve missed something let me know…

When you see her list, add no doubt add your own items, perhaps you will respond as I did:

What a great personal checklist for me as a teacher! Does my life model these attributes? Phew! Food for thought !

So, in the midst of the nitty-gritty, week-by-week planning  and preparation for your children’s ministry, why not consider Wanda’s challenge and build your own list of long-term goals for your young people. Allow God to mould you, so that you model these qualities. Then he  might use you in some measure to mould the young lives in your care into great men and women of God.

Connecting with Bible culture

Catherine and I recently visited two wonderful museums.

Two museums

One was the site of the remains of a Roman fort in Northern England, near Hadrian’s Wall. Here, at Segedunum, North Shields, we saw outlines of the stony foundations of the soldier’ barracks, the stables, groom’ quarters, a granary and the central praetorium, or commander’s house.

We were guided round the ancient ruins by means of an audio explanation, which seemed to bring it all to life. We were also fortunate to see a reconstructed bath house and a mock up of a stable, so we got a glimpse of what life was like in the barracks for the weary soldiers returning from patrol.
Inside, the museum presented artefacts which the archaeologists had found on the site. Among them we saw pieces of cavalry tack and equipment, and religious items. One very interesting room was given over to medical instruments. We were told what operations they were used for and how various ailments were treated by the doctors. It all made us think of our lives today, and we compared our situation with the Romans of a thousand years ago. Somehow we felt connected with them.

In contrast, some months later we visited another eminent museum. It also housed Roman artefacts and some stunning medieval pieces, including jewellery. But this time, there was only a limited effort made to set the find in context. There was no audio guide and the labels on the cases were not sufficient to satisfy our curiosity about what we were seeing.

Wonderful as the displays were, that second museum seemed to miss what the first one had given us – a sense of connection, the ability to identify with some of the items and the people behind them. The Roman culture was very different from ours, yet we felt affection for these people.

Four questions:

  1. How do we relate the gospel of Jesus Christ to the children we teach, and to their families?
  2. How do we show that the message of the Bible is relevant for today, for their lives as well as for those of a people who lived over 2000 years ago?
  3. Do we engender a sense of reality about the characters we talk about?
  4. Do the children feel a connection, an affection even, for them?

We can make the connection between two cultures:

  1. If we ensure that our teaching is not only “a Bible story” (good as it is to convey a true narrative) but something more.
  2. If we explain the life-principles behind the narrative, not in a dry, legalistic way, but in a way that engages the children’s interest.
  3. If we ask God to help us see situations and scenarios that the kids are familiar with, and use them to help the children connect the Bible principles with their own 21st century youth culture.

Apart from covering everything in prayer and trusting God to anoint our ministry with the power of the Holy Spirit, is there anything else you would suggest which would help us to put Scripture into today’s context for kids?

Taking time to prepare

Abraham Lincoln was supposed to have said something like:

If you gave me six hours to cut down a tree I’d spend four hours sharpening the axe.

In other words, he planned to take twice as long preparing for a task than actually doing it. So, what constitutes preparation for a Bible lesson or task in a class or meeting?

  • Gathering together all equipment – visual aids, demonstration items, snacks, whatever you are going to need to fulfil your responsibility. If your memory is as bad as mine ;) make a list and check it off physically as each item is bagged and taken to your transport.
  • Becoming thoroughly familiar with what you will be doing – how you will teach the lesson, how the skit will run, or the sketch-board item, how the song visuals and actions will work, etc.
    I find it very helpful to “run a video” through my mind of how the meeting/class will progress. Ever seen the downhill ski competitions? The cameras often pick up an athlete waiting for his or her start, eyes closed, hand in front of them dipping and swooping, bending and stretching, as they replicate in their mind the run they are about to do, with all its turns, dips and leaps.
    By “running the video” of your club meeting ahead of time, you may realize that you have not planned for an important element. You might, for example, imagine yourselve organizing the pre-schoolers hand painting project. Then, as you “fast-forward” to the end of that session, you realize you have not planned a vital ingredient… and you would really regret it if you didn’t take the wet-wipes and paper towels for use after the hand-painting!
  • Relying on Christ  – At the end of the day, all your planning, list-making and forward thinking will be of little value if God is not in what you do.
    I realized at one point in my ministry that I was, in reality, relying on my familiarity with the lessons and visuals, human personality and even past spiritual successes. But “without Christ we can do nothing”. Breakthrough in kids’ understanding of spiritual matters can come only as the Holy Spirit does his work. I need to always rely on Christ to anoint me, flow through me and open young eyes and hearts to Bible truth. And that is essential preparation.

Conversation with Kids

Catherine and I have always felt that there is incalculable benefit in listening to kids and hearing about their interests, worries and joys. So it was with great interest that we read an excellent article by Wayne Stocks (aka Dad in the Middle). He  asks the question : “Does Quality Time Always Have to Be Spiritual Time?”

In his article for Ministry-to-Children.com, Wayne writes about the value of talking and listening to kids, whether or not you speak of the gospel.

  • What sort of things do kids like to talk about?
  • Is ordinary, “non-spiritual”  conversation of spiritual value?
  • Should we always try to weave in the gospel?

In an account of a recent real-life experience, Wayne answers these questions in a practical way. If you would like to see how relationships can be built and opportunities to bring healing into young lives can be grasped, you can read Wayne’s article here.

Do you feel like quitting?

A post by Greg Baird recently caught my eye – especially the opening lines:

We all want to quit sometimes.  Discouragement can be daunting.
Hurt.  Disappointment.  Fear.  And a number of other emotions can bring us to our knees.  We want to quit.  Just give up.

For some of us, a year of children’s clubs is drawing to a close. Some kids’ clubs close over the summer.

For others among the kidmin community, summer approaches all to soon, with VBSs (Vacation Bible Schools, or Summer Holiday Clubs) to plan, volunteers to train and next year’s curriculum to organize as well!

Do you ever feel like quitting, and making this your last year as a kids’ club leader or volunteer, or making this your last VBS?

Or maybe the deluge of discouragement you are feeling right now is coming from somewhere else, other than the children’s ministry.

Whatever is getting you down right now,  I hope you’ll surf over to Greg’s blog, read the comfort and challenge that his chosen Scripture give us, and ponder his keys to perseverance.

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