Last week, we discussed our mission in a 3-part series (The Tension, The Mission, The Call). Now, we want to explain what we value as a Children’s Ministry staff. Over the past few months, as we’ve met with and exchanged ideas with other churches, we came up with a list of 5 core values for our ministry. As our church continues to grow (we have gone from 2 to 6 services, and from 1 to 3 campuses, in just 2 years), these are some core values that we think we need to always hold constant.
- The Children’s Ministry staff is connected to the rest of the church staff. Children’s Ministry has been one of Grace Church’s “growth engines” over the years. And we receive a lot of support and resources to meet our needs. Among children's ministry leaders at some churches, there is a mindset that their ministry is a separate “kingdom” that needs to be protected. A couple of years ago, we were even at a children's conference where the facilitator explained (half-jokingly, at best) that children’s leaders need to manipulate the senior pastor in order to get what they want. We were astounded, and thankful that we don’t have this atmosphere at Grace.
Likewise, we are connected to the rest of the church staff in that we may deliberately choose to do or not do things, for the better of the church as a whole. We are not about our own “kingdom,” although we are passionate about what we’re doing. For example, it is better for our programming to have a two-service format, so that volunteers can attend adult worship while also having consistent small group relationships with children. However, we know that we cannot always have 2 services, so we are learning how to do our programming without back-to-back services.
- We want to reach and equip parents. We have a limited amount of time with children each week. Therefore, we know that in order to have a long-term impact in the lives of children, we must do it primarily through parents. There are several ways that we want to equip parents:
- Informing parents of our programming. You can see our upcoming curricula outlines for Preschool and Camp Grace on our website. We give take-home materials that explain what was taught in class.
- Providing specific parental equipping events. We have had 3 big events (averaging more than 250 adults in attendance at each) since April 2008. And on April 16-17 of this year, we will have another one, called Transitions Parenting Conference.
- Providing a safe and secure environment, so parents can feel free to worship. We use an electronic check-in system (Parent Pager) that helps us know where all 800+ children are each weekend, and helps ensure that only authorized adults can check-out children. We have a simple but thorough safety plan. We have dedicated volunteers who can help young children and their parents through anxieties, and a method to contact parents in adult worship should a need arise.
- Helping children want to come back. Because of a combination of loving volunteers, small group relationships, and fun programming, we have heard from a number of families that their children love coming, even begging to come, on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings.
- Giving parents the opportunity to serve. At least one church we know does not allow parents to serve in children’s classrooms. (They have a very low number of children, so this works OK.) But we think it’s crucial and a great opportunity for parents to serve during our weekend services. See this blog post for a more detailed explanation why.
We’ll cover the other three values later this week. What do you think about what we value in Staff and Parents?