A few months ago at the Purpose Driven Children’s Ministry conference Steve Adams challenged us to write down in one word what we thought was the most important thing in children’s ministry. I landed on relationships. No matter how you slice it relationships are imperative to what we do. Here’s a picture of what relationships can look like in a healthy children’s ministry:
1. Our relationship with God keeps us centered.
This seems pretty obvious but sometimes I find myself neglecting my time with God because of my job, which is trying to help people with theirs. I’m willing to bet that if you were really honest with yourself you would admit to feeling the same way too from time to time. Our stories lack the impetus that they need when we are not regularly refueling from the tank of God’s love. Jeremiah 6:16 tells us how to get the rest that our souls long for to keep us centered on the most important relationship we will ever have.
2. Our relationship with staff keeps us cohesive.
I’ve been a part of some really great teams and some pretty lousy ones. Great teams are the ones that you keep coming back to time and time again; the ones that everyone hopes to be a part of but few actually are. These are the teams where:
* People trust each other
* Team members listen without holding back or being hostile
* Leaders arrive on a direction to move in
* Everyone follows through on their commitments
These teams are the ones that do great things. These are the teams that change the world.
3. Our relationship with volunteers keeps them committed.
The backbone of every ministry is volunteers. As staff we may have great ideas but without our volunteers nothing of long-term substance can materialize. What’s your plan for caring for the people who care for the kids and families in your church? Not having one is like forgetting your wife’s anniversary every year: she may put up with it once or twice but don’t expect her to stick around for long if you’re going to treat her like that.
4. Our relationship with parents builds a healthy community.
If we’re lucky kids are with us about 52 hours a year. They’ll spend about 1,080 hours a year in school. The rest of the 7,628 hours of their year is spent at the discretion of their parents (my 4th grade teacher would be so proud right now). Whether we like it or not, time is not on our side. You can’t fight the math. The question isn’t IF parents have more influence over their kids but HOW are you helping them have the RIGHT kind of influence?
5. Our relationship with kids influences their character.
This may seem to contradict what I just said but the hour a week we do have with kids is important. I wouldn’t be in children’s ministry today if it weren’t for key relationships in my elementary and adolescent years. The story that you are living, even seen in hour-sized bites, can positively impact a child’s world for a lifetime.
6. Our relationship with the rest of the church helps the whole body stay connected.
I’m ashamed to admit it but I spent the early years of my career living in a children’s ministry silo. I thought that children’s ministry was the only thing that mattered in my church. In time I learned that what we do in children’s ministry is a piece of a much larger story of which we are but a supporting characters. Lasting change happens when we have a plan that involves children, student, and adult ministries working together.
Which one of these relationships do you need to spend more time investing in right now?
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