Recently, a colleague in children’s ministry reached out to me after she read Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith. She was encouraged to see that the book touches on themes she had implemented in her church in Texas. I invited Erin Woodfin to share her story with you.
I began reading the book of Judges in my quiet time and kept coming across the fact that it only took a generation for the Israelites to forget about the glorious deeds of the Lord. Judges 2:10 says, “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.” This verse spoke to me and I began to think about my own child and the children who come to our church. I began to realize that the reason a generation arose who did not know the Lord was because the parents and teachers had failed to do what God had called them to do. They did not carry out the verse in Psalm 78:4. They did not tell to the coming generation the things the Lord had done. I began to be convicted and committed that this would not happen on our watch. So the phrase “NOT ON OUR WATCH” kept playing over and over in my head. “NOT ON OUR WATCH” will a generation arise that does not know the glorious deeds of the Lord. Together we will raise up a generation who knows the Lord and the glorious things he has done. I never want families to forget, I never want children to forget the glorious deeds of the Lord. Practically for our church, we did this in three ways:
When we launched the NOT ON OUR WATCH vision to our Kids Ministry Volunteers, we went all out. We got shirts, cups, bracelets, you name it we had it. I wanted my volunteers to know that this was something I wanted them to push hard. I wanted them to know the time they spent with children was not just glorified babysitting but that it was Kingdom work. I used Psalm 78:4 in almost every conversation I had with a volunteer and wanted them to have that verse memorized by the time the year was over. I saw so much excitement in the lives of my volunteers because, for the first time, they felt as though their position mattered and was playing a huge roll in the spiritual development of children. If I wanted the “NOT ON OUR WATCH” vision to take off, I knew my volunteers were going to have to sell it for me.
Training of volunteers is the largest part of what we do in Children’s Ministry. A well-trained volunteer is the lifeblood of your ministry. The year we ran with the “NOT ON OUR WATCH” vision, I had several other children’s leaders who I trusted come in and help me with training. Sometimes we as children’s ministers say the same thing over and over again, but bringing in someone with the same passions can excite the volunteers in your ministry.
One of the other things we incorporated that year was a time for me to meet with all my volunteers. While my small group leaders were with the children, I would meet with my ministry team leaders. In these meetings, we would pray together, take care of any housekeeping matters, dream together, and talk about ways we could improve things. This was also a time I would use to train and encourage my volunteers. I would also let them tell me things that were working for them or things that were frustrating. It allowed me time to be able to minister to my precious volunteers. A well trained and loved on volunteer will take your ministry to a whole new level.
When we launched the “NOT ON OUR WATCH” vision I knew I would need better parent involvement. Parent involvement is always something that is challenging for ministers. However, I believe there are changes that can be made to increase parent involvement in your ministry. Curriculum choice is one of the main ways to get parents involved. Choosing a curriculum that has multiple ways of getting parents involved is the way to go. We use the Gospel Project, which has several ways of connecting with parents. They have take-home sheets, information for weekly emails, and even an app to make things even easier for parents on-the-go.
Another way parents are encouraged to be involved is by my volunteers reaching out to families each week. My volunteers reach out in the form of handwritten cards, texts, or phone calls. This constant communication with parents shows them they are not alone in the discipleship process. We want them to know we are in the trenches with them.
Children’s ministry is the best and most exhausting job on the planet. However, with the right vision for your volunteers who are trained and loved on well, and good parent involvement, your ministry will become something that is life-giving. Remember, “NOT ON OUR WATCH” will there come a generation that does not know the Lord. We will stop at nothing to make sure children know the glorious deeds of the Lord. We are equipped to do what God has called us to do. Let’s face this challenge head-on and refuse to fail. Children will be discipled, families will be changed, and the Kingdom will grow.
“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” Psalm 78:4
Erin is the children’s minister at Immanuel Baptist Church in Marshall, TX. She is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Erin is passionate about finding ways to creatively engage children and help point them to Jesus. She also enjoys writing, running, a hot cup of coffee, and watching baseball with her husband Michael and their two precious daughters.