I’m sure we all can fill the rest of that sentence. In fact, I’m sure those of us in children’s ministry have used those exact words at some time. I’ve used that phrase many times. Unfortunately, that phrase easily becomes a poison that corrodes and kills our ministries.
I came across this post from Scot McKnight as I was perusing the blogosphere. I encourage you to go read it.
In short, McKnight takes an idea from Skye Jethani’s book, “The Diving Commodity,” about how Christian branding is a form of triumphalism. In other words, Christian branding subtly moves the focus of what we do from God to “we” and we compare ourselves to other sectors/areas/departments/etc. in the Body of Christ (“them”) pitting “we” as better than “them.”
McKnight goes so far as to say this kind of branding or triumphalism treads on idolatry of self or whatever “we” is.
I couldn’t help but think of how those of us in children’s ministry do that sometimes. We look at other areas of ministry and compare ourselves to them. Youth ministry gets more money than we do, but what we do is more foundational. Everyone wants to be on the choir/drama team/worship team but no one wants to do what is important and minister to children. Children’s ministry is THE most important ministry in the church. We are better than them.
We also do it when talking about parents. We want kids to know Jesus more than parents do. Parents abdicate their responsibility to us. We need to tell parents like it is and make sure they are doing their job… OK, maybe the last sentiment is a bit harsher than reality.
Let’s be honest, though, it is easy to get a chip on our shoulders and compare ourselves to everyone else. It’s easy to think that we are the only ones who care about the spiritual development of children. I think sometimes we even like playing the martyr.
What would happen if we stop branding ourselves as children’s or family ministry… as the department that cares more about your kids than everyone else?
What would happen if we stop whining and complaining and comparing?
What would happen if we saw our mission… our purpose… rather than to teach kids about God but to help children find their place in the Body of Christ and to help the adult members of the Body to nurture and mentor and include children in the mission God sent His entire Church on in this world?
What would happen if we worked hand-in-hand with the other departments to move our entire churches forward rather than our departments?
What would happen if we humbly came alongside parents and guardians and lifted them up, rather than lecture them, so they can be the primary faith models for their children?
Who’s with me?