I was being debriefed by a very knowledgeable facilitator a couple of weeks ago. As she introduced herself to me I discovered she was a clergy spouse, incredibly experienced  and accomplished in the hospitality field, and the church she served did not have a ministry with children. Hmmmm…

I hope I get to speak with her again, because the innovator in me just started jotting down ideas for how they could begin a ministry to the families and children in their community. 

If they have a parking lot, what if they secured some orange barrels or cones and offered driving lessons? Our home church had a large parking lot. When they realized parents were bringing their new drivers on campus for driving practice, they purchased a couple of tall orange cones and set them out in the parking lot. Those cones moved all over as helps for parallel parking and the like.

What if her church notified a local driving school and offered to do a blessing of the driver’s license twice a year? What if a part of a Sunday service was to bless driver’s licenses? What if they offered parking practice and even a vehicle to some single parents from 10am-12noon on the first Saturday of the month even if just in the parking lot? With the parking lot, what if they offered to the local businesses or schools a place for meeting, overflow parking, emergency evacuation?  

Because she is incredibly accomplished in hospitality, what if she offered a social class in interviewing, service, hospitality, courtesy, speech, writing, completing an application, meet & greet etiquette, etiquette, dressing for success? What if she contacted the local elementary, middle, or high school counselors to coordinate a space for hospitality skills or offered her ministry of presence on a career day? What if the church promoted a special 1.5 hour hospitality workshop with her as the headliner for parents and their students at a meet and greet with her and list her credentials in the hospitality industry? She’s a woman of faith and highly successful in her field. What a gift to share these skills with students preparing to make their way in the world through a filter of faith in Jesus!

She shared that her husband is a musician. What if he offered introductory music lessons as a group where he could share a Bible story or a simple reading from a children’s Bible of the many ways music is spoken of in the scriptures? 

There are so many opportunities for children and their families to be welcomed on a church campus besides Sunday morning to begin relationships and live out, “We are your good neighbor, we want to help you along your way.” 

We are not event planners nor are we event venues, so we must insist on intentional faith formation elements which are developmentally appropriate. We won’t miss the opportunity for faith formation when someone from the church family welcomes, hosts, and leads.  We can be good neighbors and give real testimony to the goodness of God by making our presence known and sharing the skills and gifts of our church family with our community. 

What if we became places where the community learns about Jesus as they learn to bake bread, budget, shop, change a tire, talk car parts, use power tools, how to be a grill master, and garden/grow stuff out of the dirt? A vegetable garden, a flower garden? What skills does your church family know and then make it a matter of prayer to be willing to share it? All of our church saints are incredibly skilled and experienced in various areas of vocation and accomplishment. What if we figured out what we have in our hands, then put it out there? It’s almost like giving your saints the chance to serve in the mission field without packing a suitcase and they can still sleep in their own beds.

Most church locations have the spaces and resources for these things. Did you know that the likelihood of a girl being taken advantage of goes down to a non-existent level once she learns how to use a power tool? Did you know that good manners can get a young person’s foot in the door faster than anything else? Did you know that the milestones of driving, cooking, budgeting are all elements of service which are not taught in the local schools and most parents don’t even know where to start but are extensions of Biblical hospitality? All of these could be one-and-dones or part of a series over the course of a couple of years. Have a couple, debrief, then edit the next two to excellence based on what you learn works and doesn’t. I’m not talking about a Broadway production, just a space and a Jesus guy/gal who shares their story and His story with a young person.

Rather than say, “We don’t have a ministry to children,” could we say, “We do!” because of God’s people, their skills, and experiences, out of a place of abundance and gratitude for what God has made available and are part of your local church family of faith? Ministry may not look like what we think and that’s what makes it innovative. Nothing needs to look like what we already have in our heads. Let’s invite the Holy Spirit to use what’s in our hands and watch Him show up and show off.

All this could be promoted on Facebook, social media, through the local school, or Eventbrite. Include a time of testimony of sharing the leader’s story of God’s faithfulness, God’s goodness, pray with the participants, and maybe wear a t-shirt with a Christian message or scripture. 

Fleshing out things like this is what we do at the Innovation Summit. The Innovation Summit is three hours of multiple ideas and real stories of moving beyond the sea of Nos to a place of YES, YOU CAN. You will leave with confidence to wonder, negotiate, push the boundaries, and advance the good news of Jesus where you are with what is in your hand. A Zoom option is not available because each Summit is filled with ideation specific to the participants present. 

The next Innovation Summit will be held at Tucker First United Methodist Church located in Tucker, Georgia on Saturday, May 1st 9am-12noon. Register today.