It’s not about me!
Rick Warren wrote this sentence in his book “40 Days of Purpose” on the first page: It’s not about me!”
When I read this in 2002 (it was the first round of the 40 days – Purpose Driven Life in the US churches), it fell like a shed from my eyes.
It’s about Jesus. It’s about his kingdom. It’s about his salvation, his message.
This sentence is of great importance in the children’s ministry. Because the children’s ministry is also not about us! It’s about the children!
We should look out of children’s eyes! It is about communicating the message of Jesus and His love to the children. It’s not about what I like and what appeals to me. It’s about what the kids like and what appeals to them!
With adults there is always a big problem when it comes to children’s services: the volume.
Kids are loud! Children scream, shout, blare! They laugh loudly, giggle and make noise! When children sing, it can get out of hand! There is a song in Germany by Mike Müllerbauer, “We sing for our God”, in which there is a passage that goes like this:
“We are whispering for our God, we are whispering for our God, we are whispering for our God, again and again!”
Here the children sing whispering with the index finger in front of the mouth. And all the children are already waiting for the next passage.
“We are shouting for our God…”
Now the screaming is unbelievable.
Kids love to let off steam. They love loud music and noise. We should know that. Even if you sometimes get the impression that by soothing them with cell phones and iPads, children today are no longer as loud as they used to be. It’s an artificial way of suppressing childhood.
Let’s let the kids be loud. Let’s make worship loud. Let us demand a loud answer from time to time, for example: Are you looking forward to the holidays? Or: Are you all right? …
Who’s up front?
I experience again and again that children stand in front in the children’s worship service, are supposed to recite something, sing or dance songs. The parents always think that’s great. But the other children are not really addressed by it. The children’s ministry is for children and not made by children.
What happens to the children who are on the stage? They are so excited the whole time that they don’t notice the content. It’s just a show to them right now. And I’m talking from personal experience. Of course, as a kid, it was always cool to be in front yourself. But actually it was all about doing nothing wrong, avoiding embarrassment and looking as good as possible.
What happens with the children watching? They are disappointed that they themselves are not allowed to stand in front. And they don’t notice anything, because the children who are supposed to read or recite something are usually too quiet or stutter with excitement.
In order to bring children closer to the message we have prepared, we should put people at the front who are reasonably confident and as appropriate to the message as possible. Maybe teenagers. Just please no kids.
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
It doesn’t threaten your authority if kids can laugh at you. In the children’s ministry it is always a highlight when there is something funny, where the children can laugh at the adults. I’ve played some crazy roles in the theater. When children laugh, they open their hearts. And then you can plant the message of Jesus’ love into it. Being able to consciously become a monkey is a basic prerequisite for good children’s ministry.
Children don’t think adult
As adults, we naturally think “grown-up”. No problems. But we must not forget that children do not think adult.
Children often don’t fully understand the things we explain. But they don’t ask. Kids can’t analyze either: This play may be funny for adults, but not for children. Or this music seems to please the leader, but for us children there is too little beat.
In order to reach the hearts of children, we must consider what appeals to the hearts of children. We should also keep in mind that children have very different concerns than adults and that children have a very different understanding of Jesus, His church, friendship, fun and nonsense than we “grown-ups”.
For us adult Christians, it is also clear how important the church and the Sunday worship service are. Therefore it is also no problem for us if the preacher does not speak perhaps so appealingly or the music is perhaps not after our taste. We know that we meet Jesus, so we go anyway.
Children do not yet have this comprehensive understanding. For them, it’s either great at church or it’s not. They associate “great children’s ministry” with “great church, great Jesus”.
Certainly the children from Christian homes have a relationship with Jesus even without an attractive worship service, if the parents attach importance to conveying Jesus to them. But the children’s ministry should also be a living experience for the children. Otherwise we have the problem, as it is to be observed everywhere in the church today: Although the young generation from Christian parents still knows Jesus, they leave the congregations and churches when they get older, because the church services has too little to do with their lives and they are not addressed in their own way.
Children need friends
Children, and even more so young people, need friends. That means they need people around them who are on the same way with them. If the children have no friends in the church, with whom they also meet at school and play in the afternoon, they will join other groups. And in puberty it can cost them their faith (which I have unfortunately often experienced!).
It is ideal if the children love to bring their friends with them to the church. But they only do this when the children’s ministry is so cool that the kids are overflowing with enthusiasm in school and kindergarten and make their friends so curious that they really want to join in.
So, the children’s ministry should get all our creativity so that not only our children are enthusiastic about the faith, but also their friends.
Kids do stupid things sometimes. They are also cheeky or argue among themselves. A church is a place where a lot of broken people meet. If you’re looking for a perfect church with perfect people, you shouldn’t join. Because then at the latest it is no longer perfect.
Children aren’t perfect either.
How many times has Jesus forgiven you? Jesus basically thinks well of us. And if we screw up and regret it, he’ll forgive us again. His love for us is unchangeable. And that’s how we should look at the kids.
We should always see the best in them, even if they once made a stupid mistake. We should see them as Jesus sees them.
And the good thing is, you can talk to kids really well. If there were problems among the kids in our church or a disrespect towards the staff, then I had a conversation with the children. I told them I loved them and they could actually do better. And I told them I do things wrong a lot, too. But to please Jesus, we should also treat the others well. Honestly, I’ve never had a problem with that.
Let’s do our best! Let us let the children be children and bring them the message so that they can get to know Jesus!