Monday, July 12, 2010

Inside the Classroom: Final Edition

This will be the final post for the "Inside the Classroom" blog. Thank you to those few who have faithfully read my column. Your trust in my words is humbling. When I first started this column four years ago, there were no Children's ministry blogs. Now, there are many fine blogs out there full of good ideas and godly advice. I hope they will be a blessing to you.

I have a confession to make. While I have had many years of experience in children's ministry, I am a hypocrite. I have portrayed myself as an expert. Yet the children's ministry at my own church has shriveled into nothing. Yesterday, as one of two teachers left, I had no children in junior church, the Sunday before, one, the Sunday before that, one. I've tried to initiate programs over the last two months that have fizzled. I have tried to motivate people in my church with no success.

I am a failure at children's ministry and I cannot keep writing blog entries giving you advice on how to reach the children around you when I have no success at doing it myself. How can I write a blog on Children's ministry when I have nothing from which to draw?

I am concerned for our youth. They are being hit with more and more twisted messages about diversity, sexual preferences, relativism, evolution. They are knocked down when they try to express any kind of Christian sentiment. More and more children are becoming the victims of divorce, sexual abuse, substance abuse, and immorality and permissiveness in the home. We need strong church programs that will lift them up and empower their parents to teach them God's wisdom. We need bold Christians who are willing to shine brightly with the love of Christ, who are willing to open their arms and enfold the unlovely, unkempt child, reassuring them that there is another way to live and Someone does love them unconditionally. I long to reach these children. Yet I fear they and their families have succumbed to the greatest subterfuge of all - the lure to keep busy with other things so you don't have time for Jesus.

Children are important. Teaching children about Jesus is one of the highest callings we can have. I am saddened to see people so busy that loyalty to children's ministry gets crowded out. All of us, parents and teachers alike, need to prioritize, need to examine what is important in our lives and to have the courage to cut the good so we can focus on the best. The best is Jesus. The best is winning our world to Jesus. The best is equipping children with the tools they need to be a spiritual success in this world. I wish I was a better motivator. I wish I was better at making the Gospel more appealing so kids and their parents would come, hungry for Jesus and realizing the feast we have to offer them. I wish I could share with you what I'm doing wrong so you don't encounter the same pitfalls.

But I don't have solutions and I don't have success stories. Other people do and I pray that God will guide your teaching so that you will draw the little ones to Jesus and you may instill a faith in them that sticks for a lifetime.


Joy Smith Mitchell said...

There are many reasons that determine what is a success and what is failure and what contributes to each. You are shouldering the huge burden of blaming it all on you.
We are competing with so many things in our society that tug at a child's social schedule. Parents have their kids involved in all kinds of things. You would like to think that spiritual things would trump the things of the world - however, that is not always the case. I find that it is not like kids have lots of other choices that are is just that parents want them involved in a variety of activities and they max out their extra time being involved in all of them. It becomes a juggling act zipping from this to that.
All family functions do not revolve around the church, as they might have done in the past. Church came first and then everything else was the "extras." It is not like that for most families in our society.
Children cannot bring themselves to church and I have found that if the adult programs are top notch and appealing, they will be more motivated to bring their kids. All areas of the church program must be quality. So take that under consideration.
I can sense your discouragement - many of us have been there at times in ministry. It is not easy. I have been a children's minister and worked with youth for many years. I would be happy to listen or share with you if you'd like to call.
Joy Mitchell

Anonymous said...

Dear friend... who I don't know... I just happened along your blog a few months ago as I was teaching Sunday School. Thank you for writing. I just want to tell you that God shares your heart for discipleship and relationship. A lot has changed in the church the past 15 years! I am not convinced that it is OK for some of our systems to fail. I have had to let many a program go. I have had to come to the point where I said, if it is not in the Bible, then it is negotiable... even if I love it. (Sunday night services, VBS...) You are not a hypocrite or a failure. I have wrote and rewrote several thoughts and then erased, but think I will just end with YOU ARE LOVED mostly by HIM and also by a kindred spirit.

Anonymous said...

God Bless you Karen. You are not a failure. Thanks for sharing the things you have learned along your journey.