“Let the little children come to me, do not keep them from coming. Because the Kingdom of God belongs to them too.” – Jesus
I like hearing more of what my friends in youth ministry have to say about parenting. I was really excited to see the blog series that Kara at FYI has been slowly releasing on the topic of parenting questions. I’ve LOVED reading the responses of friends I adore and respect as leaders but also as parents.
If you’d like to read some of the some of the interviews posted so far, I’ve listed the links for you.
3 Parenting Questions
Now I want to talk for a minute about the kids ministry that I’m a part of. It’s actually the one that takes place in my house.
“Kirra is a youth pastor baby. She’s in church every time the doors are open. This leaves her vulnerable to be caught by friendly phone cameras during her brightest baby moments. The teething nose dripping moments. The tantrum on the foyer floor moments. The joyous face that knows that all the candy she sees is hers (all she has to do is ask a teenager.)“
I wrote these words almost six years ago and left them as a draft on my blog. There are 37 other similar entries where I describe what it’s like for my kids to be surrounded by hundreds of adoring adults and teenagers on a weekly basis. I wrote about how they are a part of small groups. (Also known as accidental intergenerational ministry.) I wrote about how stressful it can be when everyone wants to talk to their mom and they just want to go home and read stories in their beds. (Also known as full blown melt downs.) I wrote about how I worried about publishing their journey would just give them more reason to hate me when they are 13.
But then they grew. And I begin to see things differently. The prodigal pastor kid story didn’t have to be their story. Because I see prodigal’s differently now that I know less than I did yesterday. I hope my kids wrestle with some things (besides each other). I hope they ask loads of questions. I hope they make mistakes while they live with us. It may not be fun, but it is an honor that we get to guide them through “the things”. I’m not afraid of ministry messing my kid up. I can handle that just fine on my own. Ministry builds my kids up gives us even more space and support to show them that they are deeply and unconditionally loved. Ministry gives us even more options to play and have fun. Ministry gives us rich stories to tell and deep sorrows to share. Ministry gives us so many precious leaders in their lives and I know I can ask a whole tribe of people to be advocating and championing and carrying my kids.
I am seeing my little girls gaining a strong sense of belonging in these moments and places. I hope someday that they’ll write about it. I hope they’ll say it was messy and imperfect but beautiful and necessary for their hearts to become whole and for their minds to be able to imagine faith shores unseen.
God gave me a kids ministry when I became a parent.
I wonder, is there a kids ministry in your youth ministry?
What does it look like?
Maybe you don’t have children of your own. But I’m guessing that you have a child or two or three that you would call your own in the way you look out for them in every phase of their life.
How does it make you feel to know that what you invest in their lives today matters in your youth ministry tomorrow?
How does it make you feel to know that what you invest in their lives today matters in their future regardless of the mistakes that they make later or the mistakes that you make now?
I am confident that one if not both of my girls are going to tell the world about the many ways that this church thing didn’t work so well for them, when they are 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 years old. And I want them to tell us. Because the only way we’re going to be better at ministering to kids (our own and others) is to listen to what they say and talk about it more.
If you want to listen better and know more about every phase in a kids life–and why it’s important for parents to know more too, then you really should come to Orange Conference in April. I’m biased. Yes. Did I study lifespan development in college and major in Christian education (birth through death min)? Yes. Do I think that knowing about the phases of a kids life are important and possibly slipping silently by us in churches and in homes? Yes. Busted. But no one can argue that phase stuff isn’t important because the people are always important. It may just be a phase, but we certainly don’t want to miss it.