A New Adventure: Kids In The Service

Hey Friends,

I just made an announcement at church this past weekend that kind of flies in the face of popular wisdom:

We're going to start
having families keep their young ones
in the service with them.

Popular wisdom says if you're going to grow a healthy church you have take care of the children so adults can be free to enjoy the word of God.

Being Led By The Lord
With as much as I love the Word of God and I love for people to listen to me when I teach it this could have been a difficult decision to make.

But, the Lord seems to deal with me sometimes in ways that aren't optimum. Especially when I'm slow of hearing.

You see, I believe the best way for a pastor to lead is
  • for him to have a close personal relationship with the Lord,
  • know the Word,
  • hear His Voice,
  • get direction from Him and
  • implement it.
While I believe that's best, that's not how this decision came about.

What Happened:
For two and a half years we had some very faithful workers handling our 0-5 year olds. Lisa a ministry school graduate was handling our Toddlers and Cyndi was handling our nursery. With as faithful as these ladies were there was not a line of people volunteering to relieve them. This didn't feel right. They have families too. They need to sit in the service too. They need to hear the Word preached and have times of fellowship. It kind of bothered me that we didn't see what I would consider the blessing of the Lord on our recruitment efforts.

I believe, for sure, that where He guides, He provides.

On the Sunday before Valentine's Day Lisa arrived all ready for the day, she had made a special treat for each of the kids with their names on it. But when Nancy arrived with our 4 year old Olivia, Nancy had already planned to keep her in the service to hear me teach. This confused Lisa. What's wrong with this picture? She's putting all of this thought, prayer, emotional energy, and hours of work but the pastor's wife won't let her minister to their child. Where's the clarity of vision.

So Lisa called me on it. Thank God she did. Now Lisa is a godly woman, polite and very cordial but she wanted some clarification. Was this a babysitting service that she was running? Was children's ministry really even in the vision for the church? After much discussion with me, her husband and the Lord she felt led to step down from her role.

Going Back To The Vision
This like I said earlier was God leading me in a less than optimum way. It forced me to go back to the seeds of vision that He had planted in me and my wife's heart in the years of preparation before stepping into the pastorate.

We had always seen, in looking to the future, families together, learning how to be families, learning how to sit together, learn together. With all of the things that divide the family throughout the week we felt the Lord was leading us to give them one place where the family was not required to be split up again.

Teaching Children
My wife often tells me, "Joe, you have a gift to teach all ages. The little kids get something out of it all the way up to the elderly." I'm not sure if this is a gift as much as it is a learned sensitivity. My brother, Vince, taught me as he discipled me that if you'll teach to the children's level then the adults will finally get it.

So, we're off on a new adventure, we don't know what it all will look like. But we know that we'll fail if we follow popular wisdom but we'll succeed if we follow God's recipe for our church.

The Correction
After I announced the change to the church a friend came up to me after service and asked if I was open to some correction. I said, "Sure."

He said, "You said twice during your announcement that we were stopping having children's ministry. But really you're taking children's ministry to the next level."