Yesterday, the formation of the American Children’s Ministers’ Association was announced. You can take a look at the website and check out all of the information about it.
There have been a number of reactions to it all over children’s ministry world. It’s been commented about on Twitter. It’s being discussed on CMConnect and Kidology. I’m sure it’s going to be widely discussed on the blogosphere in the coming weeks.
I was participating in our city’s yearly Teddy Bear picnic, so I missed the “official announcement.” A friend of mine called me up to tell me about it.
To be honest, my first thoughts were cynical. I decided to hold on solidifying any thoughts, though, until I had a chance to read through the information on the website and talking with with one of the board members. (Thanks Michael Chanley for your time… I hope you were able to get some gas for your car )
So, what are my thoughts?
First of all, each of these initial board members do have a genuine desire to see the role of children’s ministers elevated in the eyes of church leadership as well as a desire to equip and challenge those in children’s ministry leadership to continue growing professionally and personally. This isn’t something each of them are doing so they can profit somehow or elevate themselves. There have been comments to the contrary, and I think they are unfounded and dishonoring of the contributions and commitments each of them have made to children’s ministry.
I don’t think the ACMA is a bad idea. It’s something that has been punted around in different CM circles for quite a while. All of us in CM know that what we do, for the most part, is seen as somehow less than other things that happen in the church. Yes, children’s ministry, itself, is seen as important, but the position of children’s pastor or children’s ministry director is seen as somehow less than that of all other roles that oversee a major ministry area. (Yes, I’m generalizing here, but I don’t think I’m too far off.) Having some sort of “professional association” with set standards for membership does help move up the status of children’s pastor from someone who eats crackers and plays with puppets to someone who is a dedicated vocational minister with high standards and accountability to maintain those standards.
That being said, time will tell if the ACMA will be effective in accomplishing what it has set out to do. It will take buy in from those in children’s ministry, churches, church leaders, denominations, Bible schools and universities, parishoners, etc.
There are some questions, as of this posting, that haven’t been addressed on the website such as:
- Do members have any influence in refining what qualifies someone to be a part of the ACMA and what does that look like?
- How long do the terms for board members last? Who is elegible to be on the board? Will the members nominate/vote for board members in the future?
- How will the ACMA keep members accountable to their standards? Is there a disciplinary procedure, appeals process, grievance process…?
- What kind of support, other than K Magazine, the Club, and various discounts will the ACMA offer to members and local chapters?
- How does something like the ACMA prevent the further compartmentalization of ministry areas?
I’m sure all of these questions have been thought through, are being thought through and will be addressed in the days to come.
My only other concern has to do with the “professionalization” (yes, I’m making up a word) of ministry. Do we really need to do that?
In spite of my questions and concerns, I applaud Jim and Michael and Roger and Ryan and the rest of those who are a part of ACMA for what they are trying to do.
Personally, I don’t know if this is the direction I want to go in when it comes to children’s ministry, but that is OK. That’s the great thing about the body of Christ, we don’t all have to be doing the same thing. I am more interested in how we can move in a direction where all ages find their purpose and place in the community of each church and reach out together to the greater communities around them.