Heartbreak of Children’s Ministry

I could never imagine what it would be like to minister in a community that experienced tragedy like what happened recently in Newtown, CT.  It is truly unspeakable. My heart goes out to the survivors, families, and pastors, especially children’s pastors who have to live with the tragedy everyday for the rest of their lives.  While I wondered how far I should go to talk to my kids about it, my fellow children’s pastors in CT where wondering how to even deal with it.

I am not trying to compare what is like day-to-day in “normal” children’s ministry to such a great tragedy, I can’t help but to think about some of the difficult situation Children’s Pastors have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.  Please understand that I love children’s ministry.  There are many great rewards to it, like seeing kids that I’ve ministered to grow up serving God continuously through Jr. High, High School, College and into adulthood.  It’s awesome to see kids worshiping God with their whole hearts, praying with kids to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, watching praying with one another, getting baptized and…. I could go on and on.

There is hard side to it though.  Of course, it is hard to see kids stop attending your church because their parents take issue with some adult matter.  But, we hope and pray that the Lord leads them to a church where God will continue to do great things in their life.  Its hard when a child wants to go to an event, but because of decisions the adult made, they are unable to (late registration, other plans, or not asking about scholarship opportunities).  It’s hard to see a families that look so great on the outside, but their kids end up so messed up.

For me the most difficult thing in Children’s Ministry, is taking prayer requests.  About 90% of the time, I get prayer requests that I pray for only out of obligation.  Plus, I figure if it is important enough for the kids to ask, it is important enough to take to the Lord.  After all, He cares about all the big and little things in our lives.  It’s that last 10% though that is really difficult for me, and I imagine almost every other children’s pastor out there.

The last 10% of prayer requests are the ones that kids think are so simple, but adults see the complexities in.  Like the foster child who asks to pray that they can go back to their “real” parents; when they probably do not understand that their “real” parents are drug addict, who neglected them as an infant and rightfully had their parental rights permanently terminated, but now they have the blessing (that they don’t understand) of living with a wonderful new family who loves them and takes care of them above and beyond what the state requires.

Or the child who prays that their parents get back together, not knowing that their mom has had more affairs than she can count, and dad deserves better than that.  Or the child who prays for their dad to come home, because they forgot how dad beat them when he was around.  Or the other child who prays the same thing, either not realizing or not caring that their dad is in prison for murder.  Or the child who believes that God is going to heal their terminally ill brother, even up to the brother’s death.

Children’s ministry certainly has its difficulties, but at the end of the day, it is always worth it.  Even though the kids don’t understand the whole situation, we get to walk with them through it.  One day, they’ll look back and see how God was protecting them, teaching them or helping them through it.  Or maybe they won’t.  I still don’t know why God has allowed me to go through some of the hardships of my life, but I do know that He has walked with me every step through it.  That is the truth that I hope to impart to kids.

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