Ready for a fresh word from a Children’s Ministry champion in the trenches like us? The following is a guest blog from Mrs. Amy May, Director of Children’s Ministry at McDonough First United Methodist Church located in McDonough, Georgia.
I’m in the middle of simplifying my life. At any given time, you can find bags and bags of stuff in my minivan that are headed to the local Goodwill store. The Lord has shown me that all the extra stuff (whether it is material goods or added commitments) distract me from what is most important in my life. I’ve gotten rid of 75% of my clothing and I’m working on the rest of my house. Constantly cleaning and keeping up with our “stuff” is not how I want to spend my time.
Likewise, I’ve been re-evaluating how I do ministry. A lot has happened since I became a children’s minister twelve years ago: our church population grew, our church population shrank, and I had three children. I’ve been through booms and lulls in attendance and giving. We have put on amazing and spectacular events that cost a lot of money and got a lot of attention. We have done awesome crafts and performances. There is nothing wrong with any of these good things, but I have to ask myself: Who has been brought to Christ through these activities? Am I planning fun events or am I engaged in ministry? I have worked so hard for so long to make things look perfect for visitors. I wanted church to be pretty, glossy, and easy. I wanted good photos for Facebook posts.
I read Sticky Faith by Dr. Kara E. Chapel and Dr. Chap Clark and the book changed the way I do ministry. According to Sticky Faith, here is what children need to help them grow in the faith: mentors, deep conversations, and active participation in the body of Christ to live out His commands. Children need to know they are loved and accepted. They need to see Christian adults live out their faith in real ways. They need to be included. This was good news to me, a children’s minister at a small church. I couldn’t provide expensive trips, a new church playground, and other perks nearby churches offered. Sticky Faith helped me to realize that sometimes I wasted time and energy on things that were not the most important things. All you children’s ministry folks will understand that I was totally being a Martha when I needed to be a Mary.
My church kids won’t remember what awesome craft we did twenty years from now. They might not remember if I did a cool science experiment or showed them funny clips from a movie to go with the Bible story. They will remember that church was a fun place and their Sunday School teacher showed up every week and cared about them. They will remember singing “Allelu, Alleluia” in Children’s worship. They’ll remember that church is a safe place full of people who loved them enough to teach them about Jesus.
There’s nothing wrong with having community events to attract the community to your church. I still do this sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with doing awesome crafts and fun, messy games. I do those sometimes, too. But I’m also not afraid now to stop the showtime and just connect with people. Have some unscripted time. Children need an adult genuinely interested in them and spending time with them. Slow down and eat some goldfish crackers with the kids. Ask how their week went. Ask how you can pray for them. Tell them about the last time you heard God’s voice and how you know it was God who was speaking. Tell them about your friend who had a stroke but wasn’t afraid in the ambulance because she felt God’s arms around her comforting her the whole way to the hospital. These interactions help develop a sticky faith that I hope will last them a lifetime.
“Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one.” Luke 10: 41-42
If you’d like to connect with Amy, she can be reached at email@example.com.