Category Archives: Uncategorized

“Shelved”?

In a fine post by Michelle von Loon, the author asks, Have you ever been shelved?

Leaders end up on the proverbial shelf for lots of reasons including change of location or family/health issues. Burnout causes some to shelve themselves. “I’d lost my joy and purpose in ministry,” a pastor turned small business owner told me. “I was doing my job on autopilot.”

Has this ever happened to you?  What did you learn and where did God take you?  Click here to read more of this intriguing post, which continues in part 2.

Takin’ a Break…

Dear Friends and Readers:

We’re taking a break from blogging to focus on family and other commitments.  We’ll see you in February.

 

In the meantime, are there any topics, issues or questions you’d like to see addressed here?  Just leave a comment in the box below.  See you in 2012!

Five Ways Churches Can Serve Public Schools – W/O Breaking the Law

The following post is by Keith Tusing.  It originally appeared in CMBuzz and Ministry to Children.com

Click here to continue reading.

What’s going on?

“We got tired of wasting our time,” Billie sighed as she tucked an errant wisp of auburn hair behind her ear.  “Having our names in neon wasn’t important to us,” added her husband, Maury.  “Developing a vibrant, dynamic, pedal-to-the-metal children’s ministries and raising the next generation of spiritual champions was.”  Lean and lanky, Maury paused as his blue eyes snapped.  “We were asked to step in and run children’s ministries when it was a disaster area.  We assessed the situation, surveyed the damage and tried to do what church leadership said it wanted.  But every time we tried anything fresh, innovative or different, the pastor and the board blocked us.”

“It was like they were talking out of both sides of their mouth,” nodded Billie.  “We never knew which way to jump.”

After a few years, Maury and Billie stopped trying and chose to take their considerable gifts and talents elsewhere.

Ministry success – a threat?

“The senior pastor was a great guy,” Johnny, a former children’s pastor, observed.  “I liked him personally.  But every time kid min made some progress, started gaining traction and surging forward in terms of numbers, enthusiasm, energy, and responsiveness – he’d get intimidated.”  The thirty-something seminary grad with more than a dozen years of children’s ministries leadership experience eventually resigned his position at a large suburban church.  “It was like he saw my ministry success as a threat,” Johnny sighed.  Johnny now teaches fourth and fifth graders at a Christian school.  Kids, parents and administrators love Johnny – and he’s having a blast.

It wasn’t working

“What they’d been doing clearly wasn’t working” explained Carla, a seasoned children’s ministries leader.  The data were abundant – and grim.  Plummeting attendance.  Apathy.  Bickering.  Departing families.  Folding programs.  The children ministries budget was a permanent basement dweller.   Carla tried tactfully alerting a “blissfully oblivious” church leadership that unless something changed fast regarding their view of ministry to children and the church placed a higher priority on kids, it would likely close its doors in the next ten to fifteen years.

The round file

When asked to address the situation, Carla drafted a strategic plan that integrated children into every avenue of church life and placed them as a higher institutional priority.  “The pastor tossed it in his round file.”

The main “issue” surrounded the strategic plan wasn’t whether or not it was on target, or even if it would “work.”  It was the pastor’s ego.  He took it as a personal affront that someone had the audacity to draft ideas or goals other than him.  “The atmosphere was stifling and suffocating,” Carla explained.  She left, too.

“Our committee would meet, set goals, work through an agenda, discuss, decide, and keep the appropriate people informed,” said Mike and Linda.  “Then somewhere down the road the pastor and the board would cut us off at the knees, countermanding or changing everything we were working on.  Not just occasionally, but all the time.”

The tail wagging the dog?

“It was like the tail wagging the dog,” Mike rocked back on his heels.  Linda elaborated, “Children’s ministries was never considered ‘important enough’ to be invited to board meetings. So the board met without any representative from children’s ministries.  They never asked for our input, never engaged the kids personally, never knew what was going on in kid min, but made unilateral decisions affecting kid min.”

Mike chuckled, shaking his head, “Decisions?  Is that what they were?  They always sounded like royal edicts to me.”  Linda jabbed him with an elbow, grinning.  “We were not only excluded from the decision-making process about our area of ministry responsibility, we weren’t even part of the discussion.  Then they’d act surprised when we’d say, ‘Uh…. Excuse us?  Why are we here?’”

“The board wanted to run the show in a vacuum,” Linda chimed in, “so we let ‘em.” Seasoned ministry veterans, this husband-wife team now serve as executive directors for a thriving national youth ministry.

Common thread

The common thread in the above stories?  Dedicated children’s ministry professionals who are stymied, stifled and suffocated out the door by overbearing, unsupportive, unresponsive or insecure church leadership.

What’s going on?

Sound familiar?  What’s going on here?

Is a flourishing children’s ministry that “threatening”?  How come some church leaders “get” kid min and others are clueless?  How come some approach ministry holistically, as a team, while others are busy building (or protecting) their own personal fiefdoms?   How do you tell the difference – before hitting that proverbial “brick wall”?  When?  Who?  How?  If you’re part of a ministry “team” that’s crumbling or dysfunctional – what are your options? Are there times when it’s best to call “the horse dead” and move on?  When?

‘Hermeneutical Hip-Hop’

Are Kids Too Young to Help the Persecuted Church?

Ten Ways Kids helped the Persecuted Church in 2010.

“Beyond Babysitting???”


“So, what did you learn in Sunday school today?” Mom asks little Susy.  Little Susy shrugs, rolls her eyes,  and blurts out the unvarnished truth: “We heard about Noah and the ark… again!”

The dull-as-dirt, when-do-we-get-to-some-good-stuff non-verbals are obvious.  And little Susy is in the first grade.  Imagine her unrestrained glee at the prospect of spending five more years undergoing death by boredom under the guise of “children’s ministries.”

“Of course!” beams Pastor Jones like a summer sunrise.  “Children matter here.  We’re thoroughly committed to ministry to children at (fill in the blank) church.”

Taking a second look, you notice that there’s no paid children’s pastor or director (not even part-time) on staff, no C.M. office, office hours, email accounts, or representation on the church board.  Kid min is at the bottom third of the church budget and hasn’t had an increase in over a decade.  Out-dated, recycled curricula are relied on, and anytime an adult fellowship needs more room, they take over a children’s classroom.

Sound familiar?

If you’re a children’s pastor, director, leader, teacher, or parent, we need your help.  We’re looking for a brief quotes (2-5 sentences) or paragraphs to include in our new book, Beyond Babystitting: Making Children’s Ministries Matter. Can you answer one or more of the following:

– What’s the difference between cramming a children’s ministries calendar with”programming” and focusing on spiritual formation and transformation – or is there?  How do you get from one to the other?

– Why does kid min matter and who cares?

– Between work, school, extracurricular events and activities and a zillion other things, the lives of many children and parents are jam-packed.  Why should they “make room” in their already-overbooked calendars for Sunday school or other spiritual growth opportunities?  What difference does C.M. make in the lives of your kids and/or their parents – or does it?  (Looking for something thoughtful, beyond a knee-jerk reaction here.)

– Essential qualifications for serving in children’s ministries

– How do you handle an unsupportive senior pastor or board – or should you?

– Incorporate parents into the process?

– Deal with recruiting, teacher burn-out, boredom?

– What kinds of standards/procedures do you have in place to ensure teacher “quality control” and child safety – or are you so desperate for volunteers that the main qualification is anyone who’s vertical and breathing?

– Where should kid min be placed on the “totem pole” of church priorities (staffing, resource allocation, budget, visibility, space, etc.) – and why?

– Describe your “ideal” children’s ministries leader or volunteer.

– What are some distinct strengths of your C.M.?  What are some of the weaknesses – and how do you plan to address them?

Your feedback is welcome and valued!  You need not include your surname, but please include your real first name, title, and where you serve or have served (e.g., Mary Jane Smith, Children’s Pastor, Faith Bible Church.)    Please use the comment feature below.

(Please don’t post responses that are argumentative.  They won’t be read.)