By Joy Phillippy
Five years ago we moved 2,000 miles away to a new state and new culture. We came from a larger church that was doing well, biblically sound and contemporary in approach. Our new church is also biblically solid but more conservative and little vision for the potential of children’s ministry. A notice in the church bulletin asks parents not to bring children into the worship service.
Even with this, we liked the church and found some new friends, but were disturbed at the lack of vision or understanding of the importance of children’s ministry. After seeing this problem continue for a couple of years, and even helping out in the children’s area, my husband and I decided to bite the bullet and offered to take the positions of Children’s Directors. In spite of our own busy schedules, we felt we could help change things.
Last year, we attended the Children’s Pastors’ Conference. My father and mother who were involved in children’s ministry had attended for years and raved about CPC. We got one of our co-workers at church to join us. The three of us were blown away by the wealth of ideas, encouragement and expanded vision for children that we received. We came home with fire in our hearts to make some changes we knew our church needed to make if it was going to be successful for the Kingdom.
The first issue we faced was curricula and budget. The church leaders had ignored the real needs of children’s ministry and only provided token budget allotments. We made a bold financial request and were given almost nothing. The church was moving into a new building, finances were tightâ€¦. you know the story.
So, we started on our own with what we had. We cleared out cupboards that contained 20 years of outdated teaching material. We recruited talented adults from our church to refurbishing the classrooms, painting huge animal murals on the toddler room walls. A construction worker built an Ark video screen unit – okay it wasn’t biblically accurate with a window opening and a dove flying out, but doesn’t the dove on the kid friendly video in the ark window of the Noah story count?
Then, we took a CPC idea using a dowel stick drama and hand bells to develop a kids’ team. We begged and got 3 minutes once a month to highlight children’s ministry in the worship service. We used CPC theme videos, children’s ministry “commercials” we found at CPC and began connecting the congregation to children.
In the beginning of December this year, our children’s drama team presented a 3-minute (remember that is all we were “strictly” allotted) a dowel drama to a Christmas song. Mouths gaped open in awe, then applause. That week we submitted our budget. We doubled what we had asked for last year. We were told our expanded budget request would NEVER be approved. Finances are tight with a building expansion. That didn’t stop us!
End of story – The finance team met this week and we were notified that our entire budget had been approved. In fact, children’s ministry was the only budget to receive such approval. Even our pastors did not get raises this year, but children’s ministry is getting what is needed. Our congregation is revitalized, our pastors are excited. Our kids’ stick drama team has already presented at two other churches in the community and more invitations are coming.
“A child shall lead them” and CPC showed the way!