Last month I identified nine suggested actions for effective kids ministry volunteers, found in Polly Hargis Dillard’s 1959 book Improving Nursery Departments. Still convinced that these suggestions are just as appropriate for elementary volunteers at church as they are for preschool teachers, I conclude this discussion with Ms. Dillard’s final nine suggestions:
- Be alert to see opportunities to enrich the child’s experiences by singing, talking, or just listening.
- Be in the room at least 30 minutes before the session.
- Avoid moralizing, such as “God doesn’t like that,” or “Jesus isn’t happy when you do that.”
- Offer a child a choice only if you intend to let him make the decision. Avoid “Would you like to go home?” unless he is to make the decision.
- Avoid comparing children.
- Use redirection (turning the child’s attention to an act which has equal value to him).
- Define limits clearly and maintain them consistently.
- Encourage a child to talk freely about himself and his feelings toward others.
- Be able to call by name the children with whom you work.
Glance at the list one more time. What is a common thread running through these suggestions? For me, Jesus’s words come to mind: “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them . . .” (Matthew 7:12) These are some of the things I want done for me at church:
- Listen to me without judgment.
- Be prepared for my arrival.
- Teach me the Bible and don’t use it as a weapon.
- See me for whom God has created me to be.
- Know my name.
Jesus reminds us that when we care for others we care for Him. (See Matthew 25:40.) Therefore when we treat kids and families, as we want to be treated, we glorify our Savior. That includes listening, preparing, teaching God’s Word, valuing kids, and knowing each child individually. What will you do this week in kids ministry that honors Jesus?
Landry Holmes is the Manager of LifeWay Kids Ministry Publishing, Nashville, TN. A graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Landry served on church staffs before coming to LifeWay. He is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. Landry also teaches children at his church in Middle Tennessee. He and his wife Janetta are the parents of two adult sons and two daughters-in-law.