“A little goes a long way.” That statement could be the motto of every kids ministry, I think. It could apply to so many things. But today, let’s use it this way: A little encouragement and a little (or a lot) of prayer goes a long way.
“And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25; emphasis added)
Let me start by trying to encourage you a little. You have faced many obstacles this year. You have faced changing ministry dynamics at an incredible rate. You have faced technological challenges. You have faced challenges to your ministry philosophy and strategy. You may have faced personal loss or job loss. You’ve faced a lot this year.
“But God…” This is one of my favorite transitional statements from Ephesians 2 because it reminds us that God makes dead things alive. So yes, you’ve faced many tough challenges this year. And we don’t know how many more will come our way. But God, who is rich in mercy, grace, and love, has sustained you and will sustain you through it all. There is a biblical truth that we must not forget: God is not finished with you yet (Philippians 1:6); He is producing in you “an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.” (See 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.) So take heart. Whatever you face, do not give up because He is with you and will never leave you. Even though you walk through the dark and difficult times, you don’t have to fear churn, change, or challenges that come your way because God has been, is now, and always will be near.
May God grant you whatever you need during this season of life. Peace. Comfort. Strength. Rest. He is able to do more than we can ever imagine.
What about the parents and kids you serve? They’ve faced, and likely continue to face, huge hurdles in their family life. With work, school, extracurriculars, church, and more in a constant state of churn, all of these have the potential of putting strain on their relationships. With honorable intentions, during 2020 many kids ministries have sought out print and digital resources to provide to the families they serve in order to promote family discipleship. These are good efforts and should be pursued. As the Lord leads you, continue to do this.
But what about encouragement? Is this a normal part of your ministry rhythm with parents and kids?
From what I am personally experiencing and observing in my community, one thing the families in our churches and communities need right now is encouragement. Let’s consider how we can encourage the families we serve this week. Here is one idea to help:
- Pull up a list of families in your ministry and maybe a prayer journal.
- Divide your list into smaller groups of maybe 3-4 or 5-10 kids/families. If you only have 5-10 families in your ministry, you can take one family per week to start.
- Get out your calendar and schedule uninterrupted time to pray weekly (or daily if you wish). Don’t let anything become a conflict with this prayer appointment.
- Designate each grouping (above) to a specific weekly prayer appointment.
- A day or so before your prayer appointment, separately text or email each family you are committing to pray for this week to let them know you are praying for them. Ask if there are specific ways they can pray for you. As they respond, add these notes to your prayer journal.
- In this text/email, be sure to offer a word of encouragement such as sharing a Bible verse or a reminder that God is at work in them, even if they can’t see it now. He is near.
- Keep your appointment and begin to pray for the families in your ministry. Pray for them by name. Pray for them according to whatever specific details they’ve shared or that you know about their family life.
- Next week do the same with another family group from your list.
Remember: the work you are called to is first and foremost spiritual work. So whether you have resumed in-person meetings or not, this “little” rhythm of prayer and encouragement will go a long way both in the lives of the families you serve and in your own personal spiritual life.