When I remember being at church as a kid, the first thing I think of is sunny days in the nursery with Ollie. She was a kind, gentle, constant woman, who took care of the children in our church for nearly 40 years. Ollie changed diapers, played games, washed toys, kissed boo-boos and served snack every Sunday. I felt loved at church when I was with Ollie.
The second thing I remember was when I was older and had to sit in the sanctuary for the whole service. That was hard. But, there was a quiet, older man at the end of our pew who would always smile at me. He was hunched over a little and he always brought his Bible in a zippered leather case. When you weren’t looking, he would slide a piece of butterscotch or mint candy down the seat to you and when you looked over to pick it up, he would wink at you. I learned that just because you were sitting quietly and being good in church, didn’t mean you couldn’t have a little fun.
As I grew up, I remember helping at the car wash and the youth leader who worked alongside us so we could go on a ski trip. I remember drying dishes at the annual turkey supper with a bunch of grown up men, who made me feel a part of something bigger than myself.
I also remember watching the older kids perform a skit in church and wanting to be just like them. I will never forget the pretty, compassionate teacher in my Sunday school class explaining the difference between “sympathy” and “empathy”.
Every church experience as a kid had its own set of lessons and most of them were not taught by a someone who was being paid to teach me. They were taught by members of the church who interacted with me.
In any congregation it is the same. Children’s ministry comes from a combination of the experiences that children receive when they come to church, not just a 10-minute story on Sunday morning or a well-planned activity on Wednesday night. We all have unique perspectives on life, that can speak to children.
Whether you are…the friendly usher who greets everyone at the door to the sanctuary, the generous woman who brings the best cookies to fellowship dinners or the young man who plays drums in the praise band… children are watching you and they are learning from what you do.
So who is the children’s minister? God may be answering…”you”.
*Photo courtesy of Anita Morrison