Connecting Stewardship, Conferences and Children’s Ministries
As we gear up for our annual Stewardship Campaign, much of the focus revolves around resources — whether financial, talents, or time.
Certainly, the financial resources are essential for the church to function, providing sound facilities and excellent programs, reaching out to others through mission efforts, and growing in God’s word. However, in the area of Children’s Ministries, the time and talents that workers share with our children is priceless. It is the work of the teens and adults who interact with our children that can truly provide a life-shaping experience for our children, from birth through elementary school.
I’ve just returned from a four-day conference in Chicago titled KidMin. (What a great moniker for Children’s Ministries!) I was able to interact with hundreds of people just like me — people passionate about children and God, serving in their churches, reaching out to children and their families, helping to build a foundation of faith for the littlest ones in their churches. What a revitalizing week!
There were several different tracks from which to choose, and I chose to focus on the resources of talents and time, thinking about our church members and friends who offer their time and talents in Children’s Ministries. I spent most of my time in workshops regarding volunteer workers, mainly because Children’s ministries is so dependent on dedicated volunteers to help everything run smoothly, allowing us to give life and meaning to the Bible, to God’s stories, and helping our children live those stories in their everyday lives.
The title of one of the sessions was “Let’s Learn Recruiting the Jesus Way.” It started right with Matthew 3:13 (John baptizing Jesus) and as soon Jesus was baptized, he had the spirit of God without measure and yet one of the first things Jesus did was to get help, to find people to help him spread the word. This was a really powerful message. If Jesus, with all the spirit of God, needed to get workers to help him, we in Children’s Ministries must need help by the truckloads! It was this passage that got our session started, and things really made sense: to recruit in ones and twos, allowing relationships to form, modeling to happen, and giving new workers the attention they need to succeed.
There were several other tidbits that were shared, and I’ve included a couple to think about:
“The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-12) This helps me know that each of us has a particular God-given gift, skill, or talent that can be used to serve God. Every one of us helps to make up the body of Christ, and each part, whether big or small, is valued and important.
“I don’t build my church by using people... I build people by using my church.” I think this is such an insightful statement, that we should focus on the gifts of our members, and put their talents to good use, working together within the church to help us continue to grow, nurture others, and serve God.
This Sunday, Oct. 23, we will have a whole new set of workers leading our Worship Service. I believe the previous quote and scripture apply beautifully to these worship leaders. As we celebrate Children’s Sabbath, our children will become the leaders for our service. Some will be pastors, others will be teachers, and even more will be evangelists. These children will be able to grow by using their God-given talents, their gifts, and their skills while creating beautiful music with their voices, their chimes, and their bells. They will be reading scripture, sharing prayers that they have written, and calling us to confess, then assure us that God will forgive, God will still be there, and God will be with us always.
The Children’s Sabbath is a wonderful way to remember that we are not in church by accident. We are there because we’re called by God. God has a wonderful plan for us, and if we are able to serve others, whether as teens and adults serving children in our ministries or children acting as worship leaders serving teens and adults, then we are honoring God’s plan for all of God’s children to serve others.
The KidMin Conference affirmed many of the programs we are currently providing, and also gave me a new perspective on what we might do differently. As we celebrate children this Sunday, we are also kicking off our Stewardship Campaign. What better way to see the children of our church as stewards of our church. Although their financial contributions may be relatively small, their gifts of time and talent speak volumes in the ways we build our people in the church together!