I can’t tell you how many times a week I see posts from fellow kidmin and fammin leaders that say something like, “Looking for some new, upbeat songs for our kids” or “Need some new fun and energetic songs for children’s church.” I smile a little because my daughter (11) has been going to a local camp for the past year and always comes home singing the songs she’s learned there (and now loves) and they are the same exact songs I was singing when I went to camp at her age. New, fun, energetic – nothing wrong with any of that – but sometimes I wonder if we are looking for the right answer in the wrong places.
Often the reason given for needing or wanting these new things is that the old things are no longer engaging the children. The kids aren’t excited to come to church, they don’t want to stand up to sing, they are bored with the format, they want something new. There’s always a ton of really great suggestions and resources, again often ministries that I would recommend, but I’m always curious about what happens next.
When the newer, funner, more energetic songs get introduced into the group, is there a change? Do the kids begin to participate more? Are they excited to come to church? Is boredom still an issue? But even further down the road, does it help to create a generation of disciples that continue in their faith even into adulthood and parenthood and grandparenthood?
Wow, that escalated quickly! I mean, that’s a whole lot to pin on some new music.
Indeed it is. It’s a lot to pin on a new curriculum too. Or a new building. Or a new children’s pastor. Or a new fill-in-the-blank. It’s an awful lot to pin on any of those things.
But churches do that all the time. I’ve done it. I’ve fallen for the “if we just get this thing or do that thing, then we’ll have the results we want” routine. Too often that’s the very direction we turn to for solutions. As parents, it can become easy to look for the next book or strategy or food or gadget that will help our children be all that they can be. As ministers, it can be come just as easy to look for the next resource or conference or gimmick or strategy that can help our ministry become all it can be.
But all of those things, while fine and good, cannot on their own produce the legacy of faith that we call discipleship.
They cannot create disciples.
Only disciples can create disciples.
We need each other. We need relationships. We need community.
It’s not even that we need it; it’s that we were created for it. Innate in each of us is this reflection of the image of a Triune God who exists in perfect unity and community. We were made in His likeness and therefore we can only be complete in community as well.
Now, some new music, coupled with mentors dedicated to walking alongside a young person in the faith as they grow..that… that has some real possibilities.
A new building and some dedicated volunteers who spend time not only in the church but outside of it, building relationships with the youth at soccer games and ballet recitals.. that has some promise.
A new curriculum plus parents who are sold out to the idea that they are the greatest influence on their kids so they start the conversation ahead of time and follow up at home… that holds some solid hope for the future.
A new children’s pastor and a faith community that is committed to ensuring that every person, regardless of age, knows they are welcomed, needed, and an integral part of the church… I mean, that, that could change the world.
In fact, if we had all of the latter and none of the former, I just bet we’d see more kids excited about church…and more adults too.
You see, it really is old news. We were made for one another.
New things are nice, even good, but without each other, they just can’t bring about the change we desire.
What if before we looked for something new, we took the time to strengthen the things that already are? What if we intentionally removed the barriers that keep us apart and begin to find ways to discover God together? It’s definitely more work than just adding a new thing, but my guess is the results would be much longer-lasting and much more along the lines of what we really desire for the next generation that we are ministering to.
For more information about
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Discipleship in Intergenerational community
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- Seminars, Workshops, Coaching
About this Blog
Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family and Seedbed