No matter how good your intentions are there will always be parents who will misunderstand you and your children’s ministry. You can try to avoid it but it is inevitable. What you intend as a conduit of God’s love will occasionally be misinterpreted as hurtful, wasteful, and even worldly.
Recently our church did a big event on Halloween. It was an enormous undertaking and one that I still feel very proud of. But there was one parent that did not feel the same way (I’m sure there were others). Here’s the first email I got the day after Halloween:
Hello, I just wanted to express my son’s sentiment after last nights service. He is in fourth grade. He was very saddened and came out with a forlorn face. I kept asking what happened. He finally said “Mom, they talked very little of God the message was so short and then it was all about Halloween.” We have participated in trick or treating, but mostly it has been Harvest parties. Over the years by their (my kids) leading we have steered away from Halloween because they have learned of its roots and were uncomfortable with most of what they saw. They have made the choice not to celebrate it. He questioned why the “Church” would. I didn’t have an answer. This is very difficult for me as a mother and member of HDC to explain can you? I encourage them to follow God’s leading and not judge others with their choices, because we are all at different stages in relation to God. I know the good intent behind having fun for the kids, but the “Halloween” part wounded his heart.
Here’s what I wrote back:
I appreciate you taking the time to write in. I know that it’s not always easy, especially when it’s about something that you are hurt and/or disappointed by. I’d love to share with you just a little bit about this weekend and I hope that it’ll communicate well what we were trying to do.
During our weekend services just past we did a little bit more “fun and games” then we usually do. Our heart behind this was to create a fun and welcoming environment where kids would have a good time, hear a little bit from God’s Word, and want to come back on Sunday night with their oikos to experience a little bit of HDC at our Trunk or Treat. Because of this, our teaching time was a little different. In fact, after the Saturday night service, I made some pretty big changes to my message to include more of the gospel message in it because I felt that we had time for more than I gave. As a result of those changes we had many more discussions with the kids during our Sunday morning services about the gospel and a few kids even accepted Christ that morning. I’m not sure if you and your family came back for the Trunk or Treat last night, but we had a Christian Illusionist come during the last third of the evening. We packed out the Powell Auditorium and he shared the gospel message to kids and parents alike. God was working through all of this and about 100 people became Christians by the end of the night.
At HDC Kids we are all about bringing God’s Word and Love to a world that needs it. While we use fun and games to do it, we never want to stray from our central mission of partnering with parents in preparing their kids to change their worlds from Christ.
If you would like to talk further about this, please let me know.
I wish I could tell you that I got an email back from them saying that they “get it” now but I can’t. Sometimes these kind of stories end that way, and that’s OK. My job as a children’s pastor isn’t about making everybody happy. I did the best job I could at communicating God’s Word and the vision of our church. I make no apologies for that and neither should you.
Thanks for being in children’s ministry! I’m sorry you get misunderstood and criticized. Many times unjustly. You’re not alone.
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