Both the new and improved and the tried and true have important places in our kids ministries. In this post we will seek to strike a balance in ministry that includes a healthy mixture of both.
Several years ago, I made the switch from being an iPhone user to an Android user. I loved the iPhone, but I had grown weary of feeling like I always needed to “keep up with the Joneses.” Every year or so, a new iPhone would release making the one I had feel obsolete even though I had been perfectly content with it just before the new phone’s release was announced. Now, though, I tend to use my Android device as long as I want—perhaps too long sometimes. I only change phones if mine breaks or the apps bog it down so much that it stops working.
Let’s shift gears and consider this in light of kids ministry. Do you tend to see ministry through an iPhone lens or an Android lens? Are you always looking for what is new and exciting, even if what you have now works, or do you hold onto what you have no matter what else is out there? While when it comes to phones we need to choose one or the other, when it comes to ministry we can, and should, choose both. Our ministries need to be part iPhone and part Android.
Android Ministry. There are some things in our ministries that not only should not be changed, they must not be changed. The gospel heads that list. When it comes to the core of what our ministries are based on—the gospel—there is absolutely no room for “new and improved.” When it feels as if we are teaching the same things to our kids over and over, we are probably on safe ground. We are never to sacrifice gospel faithfulness on the altar of novelty. Besides, remember that most of your kids attend once every two to four weeks so what feels highly repetitious to you may not be at all for them.
There are plenty of other areas where change would be permissible, but may not be best. The curriculum you use is a perfect example of this. If you are using a curriculum that is gospel-centered and that aligns with your values and objectives, stick with it for the long-term. Don’t change just because you have the itch for something new. New and exciting often need to kneel at the feet of tried and faithful.
Another area of ministry where the default should be Android is leadership. Strive to develop leaders who are in it for the long haul. There is beauty and power in leaders who have built long-term relationships with kids and families and who have ample ministry experience.
iPhone Ministry. Just as new isn’t better at times, neither is old. We have all rubbed shoulders with the “But we have always done it that way” mentality that can easily stifle effective ministry. Many changes are for the better. Think of the development of technology in ministry. Think of how much better computer security check-in and projection systems make our ministries. While the gospel is an unchanging Android part of our ministries, many of the methods and activities can, and often should be, iPhone.
A good example of this is partnering with parents and families. Years ago, there was more of a mentality that the church was the primary place of discipleship of children. Parents were just needed to bring their kids to church. But recently, we have seen a greater emphasis in returning to a healthy, biblical, balanced approach where parents are seen as the primary disciplers and churches partner with them. This has impacted many of the ways we minister and even resources that we use and suggest. Does your church have a parent resource corner? That was an important iPhone decision at some point.
As we can see, we make a mistake if we build a ministry that is exclusively iPhone or Android in its approach. We need both, always being careful to consider what is the best approach for that particular part of our ministry and why.