Guest Blogger: Mary Chase Breedlove
Children’s Ministry. Sometimes those two words paint an image of angelic, frolicking children playing gently with colored building blocks and eating their cookies and Kool-Aid quietly at a kid-sized table. They sing songs and read stories about the Bible. They sit quietly through lessons. Sure, sometimes they may make you want to pull your hair out, but for the most part, they’re well-behaved.
For some, perhaps I’ve described a decent image of your very own children’s ministry. But I’m sure most children’s ministers and volunteers find themselves in a whirlwind of laughing, talking, running, jumping, playing, complaining, shushing, and the general “joyful noise” of children.
So what do you do when someone from your church criticizes your ministry because kids are laughing loudly in the children’s room? Or one took off running through the hallway?
A lot of the “church curmudgeons” known for their criticism can be very discouraging to children’s ministers, especially young ones. You know the people I’m talking about—the ones who don’t like loud music and expect nothing less than for the third grade boys to sit quietly and perfectly still for an hour-long lesson.
I understand people can be slow to change, and the idea of active learning may be foreign to some, but I want to encourage you to try to include them in your ministry. I know it’s hard to fight the temptation of arguing with them or being engulfed in rage. The next time they complain to you (or someone else) about how loud their room sounds or how energetic they are, invite them to participate in your Wednesday or Sunday activity. Let them see how important active learning is for children.
One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned working as a CentriKid staffer, production leader and director is the importance of active learning. Children learn though doing; some of the most intentional conversations I’ve ever had with kids have occurred while they are crawling around on the floor playing a game during Bible study or running through a sprinkler during an outdoor track time. Sure, it’s summer camp, but when kids are engaged, they are attentive.
If you have to crawl on all fours playing a game that illustrates the Gospel, do it. If you have to jump around doing hand motions to songs to get kids excited, they could memorize scripture in the process.
There is no limit to how children can learn about Jesus.