This last weekend, I was at a conference for Youth and Children’s Pastors from all over the state of Oregon. This is the second year that I have attended this conference, and the second year that I have walked away inspired, refreshed, more equipped, and understanding more of what it means to be both a man of God and a Children’s Pastor.
One thing that Children’s Pastors talk about almost every time we get together is a concept that has been dubbed “family ministry”. The bottom line of the idea is that our job as Children’s Pastors is to equip parents, and train them to be the primary spiritual influence in their kids’ lives. Enter Pastor Brad to talk tough to the parents:
Here is the deal: I have 1.5 hours a week or 78 hours a year (if you attend church every single week) with your kids. There is 168 hours in a week. In those 1.5 hours a week, I am not just trying to teach or kid(s) but also about 50-60 others. So for 1.5 hours a week, your kid(s) has 1/50th of my attention. By way of comparison let’s see what else has your kids’ attention and the ratio (ration is based on kids per adult standard ratio per activity):
1.5 Hours week – Me 1/50th of my attention
63 Hours a week Sleeping 100% of attention
40 Hours a week at School 1/20 percent of teacher’s attention
5 Hours a week sports practice/Music Lesson/Misc. after school activity 1/10 (sports) 1/1-1/3 (Teacher)
58.5 hours waking hours at home 1/2 parents attention (average family 2.5 kids to 1.5 adults)
Every person in this equation is important, and they all have something they are trying to teach your kids. In my 1.5 hours that I have with your kids, I am expected to teach them how to live for Christ, which I think I do a good job of, however, if I have 1.5 hours to do that and teachers have 40 hours to teach whatever they want, and 58.5 hours of parents saying that God exists and loves them, the kids have a greater chance of becoming fully devoted followers of Christ. However, if there is 58.5 hours of indifference from the parents-or very little time showing the importance of a relationship with Christ, and 40 hours of indifference from teachers, and only 1.5 hours of time with me and 50 other kids, the chances of them becoming a fully devoted follower of Christ greatly diminishes.
We live in a culture today where if you want for your kids to be successful at something, the common accepted practice is to sign the kids up for a lesson, take them and let this person teach the kids how to do it right. For example, if you want your kids to play soccer, you sign them up for the league, and take them to practice and let the coach teach them. This idea has carried over into the church. If you want your kids grow up to be a fully devoted follower of Christ, take them to church, take them so much they begin to view it as their second home.
There is a fatal flaw in this plan: it produces mediocrity, and I do not want your kids to be mediocre followers of Christ. Those who turn out to be the best at what they do, have parents that work with them along side of their coaches/teachers. When I was in Japan, I lived in the city where Ichiro grew up (Nagoya). One day, I was out with my host father, and we drove by a baseball field. In no way did it stand out to me. My host father told me that this field is where Ichiro’s father would bring him EVERYDAY to practice for 2 more hours. They practiced EVERYDAY: Saturday, Sunday, Game Day, Practice day, Holiday, School, Non Practice day, it did not matter. Ichiro’s father understood that if Ichiro was going to be the best, he had to be involved-and it paid off. Ichiro is one of the best players in Major League Baseball.
I was challenged in this area to think about the job of a Children’s Pastor to be Orange. I am no expert on colors and what makes colors, but it was explained to me that Orange is simply a combination of Pink and Yellow. Parents are represented by pink: you have the kids and (hopefully) love & relationships (that is not to say that I don’t), and the yellow represents God and his Glory from the church. Orange ministry is the merging of the two: churches have the resources, and can equip parents who have the time and relationship with the kids. When these two come together, great things happen.
There is one thing that I want to make clear about this concept of ministry: moving in this direction does not make the job of a children’s pastor easier, nor does it mean that the children’s pastor is skirting his responsibilities. In fact, it is taking on more responsibilities, as he goes from ministering to the needs of kids, to the needs of families.
All of this to say, I intend on moving in this direction. I see some great parents who from what I can tell seem to be interested in and moving in the direction of being their child’s primary spiritual influence, and I see others who have yet to move in that direction.
One reason that I believe parents don’t do that is because they do not know how. My parents were not my primary spiritual influence, and they are wonderful Godly parents, but they did not know how. I imagine the same is true of you, regardless of whether or not you are working toward being that for your kids.
No matter where you fall in this spectrum, I encourage you to get involved in this page to help others along this journey. If you consider yourself in the place where you are not the primary spiritual influence for your kids, because you don’t know how, please start asking questions here in the discussions, or on the wall. I guarantee that if you are wondering, so is someone else, your asking helps others. If you are or are working toward being the primary spiritual influence in your kids’ lives, please answer questions-there is no wrong answers here. Share your success and failures. Your wisdom will help countless others.