Kenny Conley will be posting today at EpicParent. He is the founder of Childrens Ministry Online, which is a resource powerhouse when it comes to Kids Ministry. Currently, Kenny is the Next Generation Pastor at Gateway Community Church in Austin, Texas (THAT’S RIGHT BABY…GO HORNS!!). Kenny is married to Sara, his wife of 8 years and has one child, Titus Whitfield Conley.
Kenny, I want to personally thank you for being bold, courageous and Kingdom minded! I am thankful for you commitment to the next generation and because of your sacrifice thousands of lives are being changed and entire generations will be turned around!!
Having served in Kid’s Ministry for nearly 15 years, I thought I’d offer parents a peek behind the curtain. If you’re a Christ following parent, you probably do what 90% of most Christ following parents do every Sunday… drop your kids off at the nursery, preschool or kid’s church. What you may not know is that the world of kid’s ministry has been experiencing a fundamental and philosophical shift in recent years.
For decades, the mindset behind almost every kid’s ministry was: Parent’s, give us your kids and we’ll disciple them! Many of us had darker thoughts like, “Good grief, give them to us, we can certainly do better.” Interestingly, we’d often complain though that parents just weren’t as involved in the Children’s Ministry as we would have liked. Go figure.
I recently had a conversation with a kid’s ministry pioneer whose influence has shaped churches around the globe. He didn’t at all discount the impact kids ministry has had over recent decades, but did admit that the approach had been less than best. He said, “Deuteronomy 6 had always been there, nothing about it changed. I’m really not sure why we just didn’t see it the way we see it now.”
You probably didn’t know all of this, but here’s why you should care.
Although what happens at home is more important than what happens at church, your kids need the church. When I say the church, I’m not talking specifically about programs, curriculums, puppets or any particular style or approach, but simply a God-honoring community of believers where your kids are encouraged, guided and built up. Kids need peer relationships where they’re challenged and encouraged in their faith. Kids need additional voices in their lives to offer direction and guidance. Isn’t that what we need in church?
So, what does this mean for you? What am I asking you to do?
Be involved! Notice I didn’t say “volunteer,” although I do think that’s a fine idea (what do you expect, I’m a children’s pastor?). Supportively ask questions. Is the kid’s ministry at your church a relational ministry where consistent adults speak into the lives of the kids every week? If not, ask why. Offer to help. You’re kids need this as much as the other kids. Develop a relationship with your child’s Sunday School teacher/Small Group leader. Tell him or her how he/she can pray for your child. Tell the teacher/leader what your child is going through and ask him/her to speak into your child’s life concerning this situation. Ask him/her what your child has been learning about and ask about so you can reinforce the lesson. Heck, make a point to invite him/her over for dinner. Not only will your kid LOVE this, but it speaks value to the partnership between you as a parent and him/her as another voice in your child’s life.
Taking this kind of action as a parent does two things.
1. It establishes a strong partnership between your family and the church, something your kids are going to need (especially in the teen years).
2. It’s going to make your kid’s ministry better. This sets a great example of what the relationship between family and church should look like.
Don’t just absent-mindedly drop your kids off for that hour every week. Engage and get involved for the sake of your kids and the families around you!