When my wife and I became new parents, we were ultra-protective of our son – to a fault in many instances. It was obvious to us that no one could take better care of the little guy than we could.
It’s hard not to make idols out of ourselves as parents, and it’s hard not to idolize our children. One of the solutions to parenting idolatry is to trust God by trusting our brothers and sisters who are also indwelt by the Holy Spirit and desire to serve us as a part of the local church. After all, if you can’t trust your church family, who can you trust?
But this is the major sticking point isn’t it? Can other people be trusted with our most important possession(s)?
A personal story might connect.
I remember dropping our firstborn off at the nursery of the local church we called our faith family. The teenager who greeted us at the door – if you would call it a greeting – did not inspire much confidence. Of course, there were other and more seasoned folks in the room, but if a foot is to be put forward, shouldn’t it be the best foot? The young man meant well, but meaning well isn’t a whole lot of comfort to young and nervous parents. We needed someone to be a minister of assurance. We needed to see that we could trust others with our pride and joy.
If you are a parent with a pulse, you have probably experienced the same thing, and the thing that you most desired was to be assured that your child was in good hands. One of the most important ministries that any local church has is the ministry of assurance to parents as a part of the children’s ministry.
What then should be the attitudes and actions that would give assurance to parents that their children are safe and secure from harm?
- Parent Perspective. The children’s ministry is also a first impressions ministry to parents. We are not just taking care of someone’s kid, but we are ministering to the parent by partnering with them to love and disciple their child.
- Courtesy. The parent should be acknowledged with eye contact and a verbal greeting that is warm and reassuring. If possible, the worker/teacher would do well to walk to the door to receive the child and address the parent.
- The Attitude of Jesus. The parent should observe the worker/teacher greet the child in a warm and loving way. Did not Jesus model for us the way we ought to treat the little children (Matt. 19:13-15)? In our church, one of our expectations is that we will treat our youngest and oldest with special honor (1 Cor. 12:22-26).
- Communicate. Upon pick-up, the worker/teacher should communicate what the child did and how they did. Parents often want to know how and what their child is doing.
- Respect. Especially in the nursery, the worker/teacher should honor the nap and feeding schedule of the parent.
- Punctuality and Dependability. It’s important to be early because when parent(s) and child arrive before the worker/teacher, it communicates something. People keep commitments that they value, and time is a reference point for commitments. Additionally, when someone doesn’t show up, it causes scrambling, and scrambling doesn’t produce assurance.
- Think About Yourself. Jesus shows His genius when He tells His disciples in Matt. 7:12: “In everything (including children’s ministry), therefore, treat people (parents and children) the same way you want them to treat you.” We all want to be treated well, and if we took the words of Jesus to heart, we would surely do all of the above, because that’s the way we would want to be treated.
- Consider God’s Glory. We must always be asking if our actions and attitudes glorify God through Jesus (1 Cor. 10:31).
- Memorize Gal. 6:9. Ministry is hardly ever convenient and easy, but it can presently be worth it and will certainly be worth it one day. “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
If we would examine our hearts in light of these attitudes and actions, our children’s ministry would be good for worker, parent and child. May God give us the strength to love and minster to parent and child with all of our being. In doing so, we will also be loving Jesus (Matt. 22:36-40 and John 14:15).