Dr. John David Laida, my childhood pastor and mentor, preached for me recently. He’s still preaching passionately most every Sunday. We were in a series on the family, so Brother Laida preached on the Christian home.
This is a guest post by Greg Baird. Greg is founder of KidMin360. help churches build great children’s & family ministry. His passion is to assist children’s & family leaders to serve kids, parents, volunteers, staff & other leaders to their full capacity. Greg’s experience is gained over 20 years as a children’s pastor.
Here is Greg’s post:
Effective Children’s Ministry is critical to a healthy church. It impacts the church in all directions. Virtually everyone in the church is linked to Children’s Ministry in some way or another. Parents often judge their commitment (and attendance!) to the church based on whether their kids like the Children’s Ministry. And, of course, we all know the spiritual impact that can be made in the lives of children.
So how do we create healthy Children’s Ministry? Every church is different, every ministry unique, and it takes far more than a blog post to answer that question. However, here’s the framework of a model that I’ve found applies to each environment I’ve ever associated with over the past 25 years:
1. Establish a strong foundation. Focus on:
2. Evaluate as a matter of habit. Focus on:
3. Embrace spiritual formation. Focus on:
4. Equip others to do the work of the ministry. Focus on:
5. Engage children for life change. Focus on:
Is it simple? Yes. Is it easy? No. Children’s Ministry is the single most complex department in the church. No other ministry reaches or involves so many individuals or impacts so many other departments, targets such a broad audience developmentally, requires such intense oversight, or is liable for so many risks.
But no other ministry can spiritually impact at any deeper level than children’s ministry. The spiritual outlook of a person is formed in the early years, and studies show that 85% of those who accept Christ will do so between the ages of 4 & 14.
What would you add for creating healthy Children’s Ministry?
For more help with children’s ministry, in the areas of staffing, coaching, training, development or resources, check out the KidMin360.
When our two boys were in elementary school, and actually wanted us to, Cheryl and I tried to go to lunch with them once a week, unless we were traveling for business. They loved it because there was a special seating section for visiting parents, and usually we brought them lunch. (I think that was the real attraction. )
Nathaniel was probably in about first or second grade. He was less the socialite of our son Jeremy so he always looked forward to me coming each week. These were some of our favorite hangout times.
On one particularly busy week, it was Friday and I still hadn’t gone to lunch with him. It was an exceptionally busy morning also and I got distracted from the time. When I realized how late it was, it was questionable if I could get there in time for lunch. I knew Nathaniel would be disappointed if I didn’t show up, so I left quickly for the school as fast as I could.
When I got to the school, I went straight to the cafeteria, as it was midway into his lunch period. To my surprise, Nathaniel wasn’t with the rest of his class. I went to his room and found his teacher. She told me Nathaniel was in the office. He was waiting for me.
Nathaniel had refused to go to lunch with his class. (He could be quite stubborn at times.) Nathaniel insisted to his teacher, “I know my daddy is coming today. He hasn’t been yet this week.”
I have thought about that story many times through the years. It’s been a consistent reminder to be the best father I can be and to never lose the respect or confidence of my sons.
It also had a spiritual implication for me.
He is the perfect father. Always. He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me. He’s promised to work all things for my eventual good. He’s committed to counting the hairs on my head. I can surely trust Him. My Heavenly Daddy will come.
Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Isaiah 35:4
She’s the most gracious, forgiving, patient person I know.
My mom raised 3 children mostly as a single mom. My dad finished life well, (I wrote about that HERE) before dying a couple years ago, but to fully understand my life, you would have to know that for much a my life, my dad was an absentee father. That put a huge burden on my mom. Some of you know the hardship of the single mom, and it’s one I never take lightly. My mom sometimes worked as many as three jobs, but honestly, I never remember her not being home.
She kept our house immaculate, she cooks better than anyone I know, she can sew, cross-stitch, and raise a garden. She is grounded in tradition, but she’s loving Facebook. My mom mothered the neighborhood and the people with whom she worked. She’s never met a stranger and she has no enemies. My mother is growing in her faith even in her 70’s. She loves God passionately and boldly and prayed my father and sister back to Jesus. (I’m fairly confident she’s praying for me too.)
My mom has taught me what unconditional love and support looks and feels like in a human sense. Regardless of what I’ve done or where I’ve gone in life, one person is always my biggest supporter.
Words can never express…
The house was loud.
There were endless hours of them performing “shows” for us. Of course, we had to “love them”.
Balls were constantly flying through the air.
The floor was used as a wrestling ring.
Every night was filled with a practice or ballgame.
We had little “free time” for ourselves.
Clothes were left lying on floor.
The toilets weren’t always flushed.
The boys usually didn’t help around the house unless forced to do so.
They left the top off the toothpaste.
They didn’t want to go to bed on time.
They didn’t want to get up in the morning.
I hated science projects.
They had lots of science projects.
They really did take a lot of our time.
In some ways, they cramped our style.
They certainly altered our plans.
Still have kids at home?
Don’t neglect the good days.
BTW, tell me about your kids at home. How many? How old? I’d love to pray for them with you!
I have to be honest. I was a reluctant empty-nester. Cheryl and I love our boys and them being at home was one of our greatest joys in life. Walking in the door and being handed a football to throw or a soccer ball to kick was often the best part of my day.
We were intentional as parents and in our marriage, however, so now we are reaping the reward of that intentionality. We raised our boys to be independent and they are doing that well. They still “need” us, but they aren’t dependent on us. At the same time, we protected our relationship, so we truly enjoy our time together…always have…still do.
As hard as it’s been for me to see my boys leave home, I’m now learning to adjust to and actually enjoy being an empty-nester.
Spontaneous living – Cheryl and I can now change plans on a dime. Someone asks us to dinner, but they are leaving “now”…no problem. Suddenly deciding to go out of town for the weekend…why not?
More time for ministry – We are busier in ministry than ever before. Cheryl ministers to multiple women in the church and my ministry in and outside my home church continues to grow. We love serving others and now we have time to do it.
Planned chaos – Cheryl and I live a crazy life, but we have the freedom within that craziness to adjust our schedule as we see fit. When children are in the house, much of your schedule is dictated by their activities. Now, we decide what is going to control our time. We can never anticipate what’s going to happen, but we have the freedom to adjust to it as we choose.
Rekindled relationship – Cheryl and I have always loved our life together. As I said, we continued to date throughout our parenting days, so our relationship remained strong. Now, we are in a new season in our relationship. It’s a good season. We love our time together.
Unbridled future – We keep saying to each other that we can do anything we want. We are free to walk by faith as God leads. It’s a very good feeling. Let’s do it God! What’s next?
Let me be clear, if you have children at home, enjoy them now. You’ll miss them, but if you continue to work on your relationship, and you prepare your children to stand on their own, you’ll one day get to enjoy the blessings of being a joyful empty-nester.
Any empty-nesters out there? What do you like about this season of life?
When you’re having trouble communicating…
When you can’t get children to respond appropriately…
When your team isn’t cooperating…
When the marriage is struggling…
Before you address the problem with the other person…
What in you needs changing?
In what ways are you contributing to the problem?
How could you communicate differently?
Before you address the problems with others…
Obviously, as a child of God, we start with God, allow Him to examine our hearts and shape us into His image, but in my experience, we often we look at the other person first…and think it’s all about them. I think we have a responsibility to humbly consider our own shortcomings. Many times, if we will look at ourself, we’ll either find the problem or we’ll find a better way to address the problem.
Get to know the person in the mirror…
Before you criticize others…
It’s a simple principle – but oh so important to remember.
It’s a principle true in leadership and life.
It’s hard to hold an employee accountable for something they never knew.
You can’t expect your spouse to remember things you never told him or her.
It’s hard to be disappointed no one comforted you in your pain if they didn’t know you were hurting.
Your child can’t live up to a standard you never set.
If you want them to know -‘don’t assume they do -‘tell them.
My good friend Daniel Doss gets real and vulnerable to share how his popular song “Stained Glass Windows” became a song. (Daniel helped plant Grace Community Church as our first worship pastor.) If you’ve ever struggled to understand the hand of God, watch this:
To download the song, click HERE.
Thank you Daniel!
Here’s a guest post from 11 year-old Mallory Fundora. Mallory and her family are active members of Grace Community Church. I love her vision and passion. She reminds me of Isaiah 11:6 “and a little child will lead them”. Be inspired…
In October 2011 I sat down to write my Christmas list for my parents, I looked around my room and I realized there was nothing I needed, nothing I wanted. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought about the children in Africa, and how they weren’t going to get Christmas presents, and there was a lot of things that they needed. So, I sent my mom an email with my Christmas list, one thing on it, to help Africa.
See, in August of 2010 the Ugandan Orphan Children’s Choir came to my church to perform, and I got to meet the children, and they were amazing. They were so loving, and just wanted to hug me and hold my hand. My mom had also started doing work for a couple of organizations that helped in Uganda, so she had taught me about the children there.
The day after I sent the email my Mom and I sat down and talked about what I wanted to do, and how I wanted to help. I contacted Amazima Ministries and Project Have Hope and I told them what I wanted to do, and I asked them how I could best help them. That is how Project Yesu was born. My goals at first were simple, I wanted to raise $600 to sponsor 2 children, one from Amazima and one from Project Have Hope. When you sponsor a child, it pays for food, medicine and sends them to school. I also decided I wanted to send Christmas cards to the children in Uganda, I mean who doesn’t like to get a card, it makes you smile. So I drew two different card designs and I contacted a local printing company and asked them if they would donate the printing of 650 cards, they did.
So I started to tell people about Project Yesu, and my mom helped me start a blog so people could read about it. I met with my Children’s pastor and asked if our youth group could help me with the cards, because I wanted them to be personal, so I needed a lot of help to write out 650 cards. I also spoke to my youth group, and told them about Project Yesu and about the children in Uganda and asked them to help me raise money. Every week I set up a booth at my church to tell people about my project, and the word spread.
In only 8 weeks I raised over $2,400 and I was able to sponsor 7 children. It was way more then I had originally planned on and it was great. I got to meet some wonderful people, and tell them my story. I was invited to go to WAYFM a Christian radio station because they learned about my project, and I was even on TV. The NBC station out of Nasvhille did a story on Project Yesu.
I read a quote one day from Mahatma Ghandi that said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. That’s what I want to do, I want to be the change, I want to make a difference, I want to help people. Everyone thinks kids are selfish or that we’re just kids and we can’t do anything like this. I want to show people what a difference one person can make. If someone, because they heard about me, or met me, decides that they can be a change too, then it will spread from me, to that person, to another person and so on. Kids have good ideas, and you know what? We don’t know all the reasons why it won’t work, we just know we what we want to do.
I know with Project Yesu, I am making a difference, not only in the lives of the seven children in Uganda who now have food, medicine and can go to school. But I am making a difference in the lives of my family, my friends, my teachers and even people I have never met before.
I want Project Yesu to continue to spread and grow, and to do that I need people like you, who are reading this post to spread the word and to help me. My goals for 2012 is to raise $4,500 – who knows maybe I’ll double that this year or even triple that and be able to help more and more children in Uganda. I plan to travel to Uganda in December of 2012 to hand deliver the Christmas cards to the children, to meet my sponsored children and to love on the children of Uganda who have changed my life.
I am selling T-shirts and wristbands to raise funds, and I am also looking for families, groups, classrooms or anyone to be a part of the “Be The Change” campaign by collecting coins to donate towards Project Yesu.
So I have accepted the challenge to be the change…. Will you?