January is a great time for leaders in Children’s Ministry to spend time in reflection on the previous year. “What did I learn last year? In what ways did God lead and provide? Why did I ever let my kids do a craft using permanent markers?!”
January is also a time to dream. “What is God calling our Children’s Ministry toward? What does his Spirit wish to do in our children and their families? What work does God want to do in me personally as I lead others?”
Often, as leaders, we can get so consumed by the hurry of ministry, that we miss the heart of ministry. A heart Jesus declares In Matthew 22:37-39:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Love God, and love people. It sounds simple and straightforward, but in the chaos of scheduling volunteers, organizing crafts, and preparing lessons, loving God and loving people can easily fall by the wayside. We lose sight of the Savior in all of our service.
With this in mind let’s look at 5 resolutions every leader in Sunday School should make as we launch into a new year.
1. Spend time with God. This is a no brainer, right? But the conviction comes as you evaluate how you use your time. If you look at time like currency, how much did you spend doing the work of God and how much did you spend with God himself? Jesus said that, like a vine separated from a branch, apart from him we can do nothing. If God has not led you first, you are helpless to lead others.
So where do you turn if you desire to grow in your relationship with God? The answers lie in the Word of God and prayer. There are no substitutes. As you listen to God’s voice in Scripture and respond to that voice in prayer, God will form in you the character of Christ. The more Jesus shines in and through you, the greater impact you will have on those you lead.
2. Family comes first. Your family is your first and most important ministry. It does not honor God to sacrifice your family on the altar of ministry. Rather a healthy family is a powerful witness to those you serve. The Bible teaches that marriages are to be a picture of Christ and his church. What better way to lead in Children’s Ministry than to put your spouse and kids first?
It is challenging to ask yourself “Do I spend as much time planning an outing with my family as I do a weekend service?” If your family life is out of balance, your spouse or children can see ministry as a threat or a rival. But a spiritually healthy family that serves together floods any ministry with the life of Christ.
3. Invest in volunteers. As a leader, investing in your volunteers is more important than investing in your kids. This may sound counterintuitive, but it is true. As one person, you can do only so much. A well trained and equipped volunteer doubles what you can do, and another quadruples your efforts. Good volunteers exponentially increase the impact your Children’s Ministry will have.
This starts by getting to know your team. It is too easy to take volunteers for granted, assuming that they are good to go and don’t need any leadership input. Just the opposite! They crave direction, encouragement, and acknowledgement. If you haven’t done so in a while, start 2016 by personally thanking each and every person who serves alongside of you.
4. Meet the parents. I know this one is challenging! Often, in the craziness of kids getting dropped off and picked up, you are lucky if you get to say more than “hello,” but parents are the primary spiritual influence in the lives of your students. They are the ones on the front lines; they are the ones God has entrusted to raise your students in the way they should go.
Communication doesn’t just happen. It is a choice you must be disciplined to make. This year take a shot at improving your communication with parents. This might be standing outside your classroom and intentionally greeting every parent, putting together an email newsletter, or organizing a parent appreciation night. The investment is worth it! Parents, like volunteers, have an exponential impact on ministry.
Keep parents connected with your children’s Sunday School and Sharefaith Kids. Each lesson activity includes a family devotional that lets parents follow along and continue the discussion at home, using the kids Bible lesson video, discussion questions, and fun activities.
5. Always focus on the good. There is no such thing as a perfect ministry. Flaky volunteers, grumpy parents, underfunded programs, and defiant children are things every Children’s Ministry encounters. But if you are not careful, you can focus so much on what is going wrong in your ministry, that you miss the multitude of things that are going right.
Did you get to teach your students about Jesus? Rejoice, there are some countries in which doing that is illegal. Do you have a building to gather your students? Praise God, many would love a building half the size of yours! Have you seen your students grow closer to God? Great is your reward in heaven for, in teaching your students, you have brought great glory to your Father in heaven!
Let 2017 begin with a grateful heart. We serve the children of our risen king Jesus Christ!