When recounting their testimony, many Christians fondly remember a white-haired saint with a kindly smile who first introduced them to Christ in a Sunday School class. Sunday School teachers have volunteered their time and poured their hearts into the youth of their churches since Sunday Schools were first introduced as a concept.
For me, it was Mrs. Babb. Mrs. Babb was a serious woman with a heart of gold. She didn’t stand for nonsense and commanded respect. Mrs. Babb treated the Scriptures with white kid gloves and instilled in all of the children she taught a sense of awe when approaching God’s Word. Because of Mrs. Babb, I learned all the names of the books of the Bible by heart by the time I was 8, and memorized many verses that I still carry with me after all these years. She truly taught me to “hide God’s word in my heart.” Most importantly, Mrs. Babb taught me what it meant to trust Jesus with my soul. Her crown in heaven will be adorned with many stars.
Churches have relied on the volunteered time, effort, and love of Sunday School teachers and children’s choir leaders for a long time. These volunteers have an impact on the lives of children. Churches recognize this, and many churches grow to rely on such volunteers to run and operate their children’s ministries. While this is a good thing, it also subjects the children’s ministry to the ebb and flow of life’s uncertainties. When there are plenty of people to teach Sunday School all is well. When the volunteer base runs dry, children’s lessons and activities trickle to a halt.
Some churches, in recent years, have recognized this, and have seen the value of hiring a minister to oversee the children’s ministry specifically. Other churches do not see the need in adding another person to staff when volunteers so readily fill the roles of Sunday School teacher for the children in their church.
I am a children’s minister, and I believe that most churches, if financially able, can benefit from having a children’s minister on staff. A children’s minister is different from a Sunday School. They are not better or worse than a volunteer, but they are able to organize and structure what happens with the children in a church in a way that is more cohesive, transformative, and pleasant for those involved.
A Children’s Minister Can Assist With Planning
Children’s ministers can work with volunteers in the children’s ministry, parents, and church members to select curriculums that align with Scripture and the churches vision. The same curriculum can often be applied across grade levels, meaning that all children in a church on a given Sunday receive a cohesive message regardless of age and regardless of whether or not they are in the same Sunday School class. A children’s minister is able to sift through various curriculums and suggest a good fit for their church. Having a curriculum to go by also helps volunteers in the children’s ministry with planning, taking the guesswork out of preparation and making it less stressful.
A Children’s Minister Sees the Big Picture
The role of a children’s minister is not simply to plan Sunday School and fun weekend activities although those things are great! A children’s minister also has the responsibility of incorporating the children’s ministry into the life of the church. They are able to help the church recognize that children are not just an afterthought, but an integral part of a church. Children’s ministers work with other church leaders to ensure that the children’s ministry is working with, and not against or as an extension of, the church as a whole.
A Children’s Minister Organizes
A children’s minister can take on a lot of the stress that plagues many church volunteers. They organize the details of events like Vacation Bible School and are able to serve as a contact point for anything involving the children’s ministry. While a children’s minister should not endeavor to do everything themselves, and should delegate duties amongst willing volunteers, a children’s minister is the puzzle-master that works all of the pieces of a children’s ministry together so that they fit and so that things get done.
A Children’s Minister Provides Support to Children
Children, just like adults, have spiritual needs and concerns. They need someone with whom to share their troubles and joys. A children’s minister is specially trained to offer compassionate and age appropriate pastoral care to a church’s youngest members. If a child is having surgery or if someone in their family dies, a children’s minister can come alongside that child and their family to let them know that they matter to God in that moment, and that they matter to those who love them as well.
A Children’s Minister Crafts Vision
In many churches, different volunteers have different ideas about what the role of the children’s ministry is in a church and what the children’s ministry serves to accomplish. People can, knowingly or unknowingly, work against each other instead of working toward the same goal of raising children in the knowledge of our Savior, Jesus Christ. A children’s minister is able to work with volunteers, church members, and church leadership to craft a vision for the children’s ministry so that the children’s ministry is working toward a common goal. They are able to give a reason behind they “why” of children’s lessons, programs, and activities.
I believe that children’s ministers are a vital part of the life of a church, and I believe that churches will benefit from adding a children’s minister to their staff. Jesus saw children as exemplars of the Kingdom of God. May our churches treat their children’s ministries with the gravity of this truth.