I used to, I used to do nursery, youth group, kid’s church, and vacation Bible school, all at different points in my life, and at 3 different churches. I stopped because I had a powerful moment of conviction that I didn’t even understand at the time. All I know is I got the message loud and clear, this is not where I want you.
Since that day all the “whys” and “wherefores” of not doing kid’s ministry have become even more clear to me. First of all, kids are people too, so why do we separate them out from our “real” congregation?
I get it, babies and toddlers can be squirmy and it’s good to give parents a break so they can enjoy church. That’s a good thing, but think about the hidden message there. “Enjoyment” means not having your kids around?
I’m a mom, I totally get that truth too, but what kind of a message are we sending to our kids and to ourselves? You are the problem, you are the disruption, you interfere with our ability to, “do church?”
Also, we aren’t talking about six hour revival meetings or something. We’re talking more about 45 minutes to an hour of singing, worship, and fellowship. Trust me, “church” is not an IRS tax class that would drive the most resilient among us to just start crawling under pews and picking gum off the floor.
Also, why is “kids ministry” some kind of specialty, but the specialty we always give to the “youth pastors?” Alas, maybe someday you’ll get to be a “real” pastor and then you can minister to the “real” people. If that sounds harsh, well I read those precise words in a church bulletin once. Everyone loves their youth pastors…..but it’s because they are the ones who take the kids off our hands so we can all “enjoy” ourselves.
I was a lost child myself and I always knew in my soul that people chose to minister to kids because they are usually sweeter, not as messy spiritually, and we feel like it’s a better investment. I would much rather throw a pizza party, watch movies, and sing Bible verses with a bunch of kids, then go out and minister to the adults in their lives, many who are dealing with addiction, mental health, abuse, divorce, non belief, and a bad economy.
See, it doesn’t really matter how much you talk to kids about faith, if they don’t see it working in the lives of the adults around them, they just become very jaded, very convinced it’s all just BS being offered up by a bunch of churchian hypocrites, so they can feel better about their own selves.
I don’t wish to sound harsh, but that’s the truth. Can’t tell you how many meetings I sat through hearing about how, “we really need to do something about these kids. Kids sheesh, they need Jesus. ” Yeah, yeah they do. They also need parents who aren’t on crack, schools that aren’t run by Romans, and a culture that doesn’t decide “healthy” means driving alone in a car with a mask and gloves on.
Kids are a product of their environment and culture, and their primary teachers are the immediate adults in their life, not the words, but the actions of the adults in their life. I could pour 80 hours a week into kid’s ministry but if they don’t see those values reflected out in the real world in some way, it is all for naught.
I myself split my own world into two parts until I was something like 35. There is the “real world” I have to live in, and then there is the church world, the fantasy world the churchians pretend is real, so they can all feel better about themselves.
As the saying goes, “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” Don’t use children’s ministry as a way to slay your own dragons. Don’t use children as future soldiers sent out onto the front lines to try to fix a world that you yourself can’t bear to look at.
We are called to go slay the dragons ourselves.
Hope that makes sense and I haven’t hurt anyone’s feelings. If you truly want to help the kids around you, the best thing you can do for them, is to invest in your own faith.