Because of my unique experience of working in ministry and as a parent, I have learned a few things that I think can help your family have a good experience with the Children's Ministry at your church.
Being well prepared can make a huge impact on your morning at church. Lay out clothes the night before, pack diaper bags in plenty of time before you need to leave, and leave with your children having full tummies! Hangry, rushed kids do not start off their mornings (or evenings) with happy hearts!
Talk to your kids about what is coming up. Let them know what to expect by walking them through what will be expected of them...including their behavior.
Listen yall, one of the greatest needs in most churches today is volunteers in Children's Ministry. The most common excuses for not being involved are: 1. "I just need a break from my kids" or 2. "I don't feel called to Children's Ministry".
I understand needing a break from your kids, or even just a desire to worship the Lord without having to have to worry about anyone else. I fully believe that our individual relationships with the Lord are of vital importance BEFORE any other relationship and I know that corporate worship can play a big part in that. But every ministry I have ever been a part of works on some kind of rotation or if they didn't I can't think of one children's director that would turn down help from someone offering, even if it was once a month or every six weeks. 12 times a year out of 52 isn't going to hurt relationship with the Lord, in fact, I personally think it will make it stronger.
When it comes to not feeling called to Children's Ministry, I understand the point of that comment. I, having a passion for ministry to children, DO feel called to Children's Ministry above what the average church-goer may feel. But I'd like to challenge your perspective as a parent a little bit and suggest that if you have children in your home, YOU ARE CALLED TO MINISTER TO THEM. In fact, it very well may be your greatest ministry calling. When you are involved with a ministry that your children are a part of, you are given a unique opportunity to be part of their world, to see things through their eyes and to maybe even learn a few new things about your kids in that environment. When you are involved in Children's Ministry, you have a front row seat to what is being taught to your kids and what they are learning and storing in their hearts.
You don't have to be a Bible Scholar or have the heart of a Kindergarten teacher to volunteer in Children's Ministry. A willing heart and availability can go MILES for this kind of ministry. Oftentimes, the kind of help needed is extra hands to pass out snack, to change diapers, to snuggle babies, to take bathroom trips, or to read a story. If you have Sunday conflicts, perhaps other serving commitments at church, see if there are certain needs during the week that you could help with. If I had a volunteer offer to make copies or prep craft or snack for the classes, it would make my week. Their are so many different ways to be involved in Children's Ministry and my encouragement is to find just one way that you can do that.
Extend the ministry into your week
Clearly, this topic is somewhat of a soapbox for me, and this point is the meat of it for me. I think to have the best experience in Children's Ministry, you need to view Sunday ministry as a spring board for the week, or as a resource for you as a parent, rather than a substitute. As a Christian parent, it is YOUR job to raise up your children in the way you should go, not their Sunday School teachers. Yes, Sunday morning worship and ministry is a vital part of you raising your children in the Lord...and I mean VITAL. But it isn't the only part, or I dare to say the main part. As a believer we are called to worship the Lord every day of the week and as a parent we are called to raise our kids in the same way.
This doesn't have to be some grand even well-planned thing. You don't have to write lessons for your kids (although if that's your jam, go for it). Here are some easy ideas that demonstrate what I'm talking about:
- Pray frequently with your kids about everything. They have a big test coming up that they are worried about? Pray with them about it. They had a bad day? Pray with them about it. They had a good day? Pray with them and thank God together about it! Have a few minutes in the car pool line? Take the opportunity to pray with your kids about something or someone.
- Latch on to one thing from their Sunday lesson and reiterate it throughout the week. If they aren't old enough to tell you about it or remember, ask their teacher when you pick them up. Let's say they learned about Palm Sunday. Ask them to tell you about it a couple times during the week and then ask them questions about it. For example, "The people waved their palm branches and shouted HOSANNA! when Jesus came by on a donkey. Why did they do that? Do you think we should worship Jesus like that?" It's possible your kids may learn about something that you are unfamiliar with. Don't be afraid to tell your kids that you don't know very much about that part of the Bible and then maybe you can read it and learn about it together.
- Have family worship time. This does not have to be fancy. It can be as simple as reading the Bible together or singing a song and praying together. We aren't crazy consistent about this but our goal is to do it often. A lot of the time it looks like a crazy dance party while we sing a sped up version of the Doxology. There is no right or wrong. Just designated time to focus on Jesus together.
Children's Ministry can be such an incredible value to your family and I hope and pray that you can find a way to be involved and have a good experience in your body of believers!