Have you ever tried to worship with a toddler hanging from your neck? It’s a challenge. It’s distracting. While it can be a time to teach and guide, it is hard. I’m grateful to attend a church that values worship and also values kids. They provide an outlet for them to go each week to help parents have a time to worship freely, without worrying about the noises their kids may make or endless trips to the bathroom or the inevitable outburst at just the wrong moment.
Every church is different. Some churches encourage kids to be a part of their corporate services at an early age. Others have children’s church during a portion of the service. Still others provide age-appropriate worship services and classes during Sunday morning worship. There are pros and cons to each. The church campus I attend has one service on Sundays, without the traditional Sunday school hour because of small groups throughout the week. My kids attend age-appropriate classes and worship during the corporate worship time. Kids are welcome in service if they choose, but my kids absolutely love the time they have with kids their age each week. I’m not saying this is the best model, or even the right model, but it’s how our church has chosen to minister to kids each week.
Once a month, we serve with the kids ministry. That means we miss going to our typical worship service. I get that not everyone wants to do that. After all, you need “your worship time” too. I’ve found, however, that serving in this capacity has been a blessing in many ways.
Here’s why I serve in the kids ministry at my church:
There’s a need … and I can fill it. Ask any church leader where there is need for volunteers, and I would be willing to bet kids ministry will be in the top three. Bottom line: running a successful kids ministry takes people, and lots of them.
Others sacrifice their time to serve … and so can I. Each week I am able to worship corporately with other believers, there is someone not doing that in order to teach my kids. That is reason enough for me to serve. Let’s be honest. Changing diapers isn’t glamourous. Picking playdough out of the carpet is quite miserable. Watching kids dip their crackers in their small cups of water is absolutely disgusting. (Why is this a thing?) But, if others are doing it for my kids, then I can do it for theirs. It really does take a village to raise our families.
I want to know what my kids are learning. When my kids go to school each day, their teachers are their primary source of learning. I come alongside and support what they are being taught. When it comes to spiritual matters, I am the key teacher for my kids. The church comes alongside of me and supports what I am teaching. Therefore, I want to know what my kids are learning and how they are doing it. If I know songs they are singing and how they are being taught, I can ask better questions about their time at church. We can also have some serious sing-a-longs in the car as we go about our daily commutes.
I get to share Jesus with kids. I’m convinced it’s never too early to start teaching kids about God. Rocking a baby? Sing simple songs of God’s love. Changing a diaper? Pray out loud, thanking God for the child and his parents. Coloring a picture? Talk about the ways God made everything. Helping a child find a Bible verse in the Bible? Share the importance of reading God’s Word. Playing a game? Connect the fun you’re having with a Biblical truth. Eating a snack? Ask kids to share ways God provides for their needs. Sitting with a child who may feel left out? Share the beauty of how Jesus promises to never leave us. The possibilities are endless. Teaching kids in a safe environment gives me the courage to be able to share Jesus more boldly outside of the church walls.
It’s fun. Kids are hilarious. Kids are strange. Kids love to play. Kids want to feel included and loved. Kids say the craziest things. These things plus more make for a great time with lots of laughs on Sunday mornings.
My kids see me serve. I want my kids to know I am an active member of church, not just a bystander. Since they don't see me in worship each Sunday, I want them to see me in their settings so they can know I am an active part of what they are doing. (And that's not to say I won't ever take them to corporate worship. I think it's extremely important for families to worship together and for kids to learn the art of sitting still and listening to a pastor preach.)
I can meet other parents. I’ll be honest. It’s hard to meet people at church, especially if you aren’t involved in a small group. It’s very easy to drop your kids off, attend worship, pick your kids up, and head out the door without ever having a meaningful conversation ... or any conversation, for that matter. Working in the kids department has given me the opportunity to become familiar with the faces and names of parents and kids. This makes it much easier to strike up a conversation when we are in the hallways or when I see them in the community.
Not everyone can (or should) serve in kids ministry. But, there are plenty of needs you can meet, even if you aren’t a fan of directly working with children. Set-up, tear-down, check-in, safety, and curriculum prep are just a few of the ways you can serve. I’m convinced, however, that everyone actively taking their children to a class each week can serve in some capacity. And, the more who serve, the less we all have to serve. More volunteers spread the great task of teaching our kids on a weekly basis.
Everyone can serve somewhere. You just have to choose to do it. Where will you choose to serve in your church?