A Need For Children’s Ministry by Amber James
Could you tell me a little about yourself and your ministry?
My husband I began evangelizing on a part-time basis right after Bible college. We traveled for the first few years, preaching regular evangelistic revivals and doing some children’s revivals with my in-laws and sister-in-law. Never had I done puppets in a ministry type setting. I just knew it was something I was willing to try. I caught on quite quickly to technique and developing signature characters. After jobs moved my in-laws to Florida, some calls kept coming in for a need for a children’s evangelist. We didn’t think it was something we wanted to pursue on our own, as we had a routine that worked for us as a family of five. But the Lord knew He had a need for us to fill. After we “tweaked” our routine for our children’s service to accommodate just my husband and me, opportunities began to come about regularly for us to minister. We began traveling as R.E.A.C.H. Ministries, which stands for Reaching Every Adult, Child & Home. Our ministry was multi-faceted; therefore, we were able to minister to a variety of ages and venues. After a few years of traveling and trying to work secular jobs, we realized it was time to make a choice and take a giant leap of faith. So, for the last eight years we traveled as full-time evangelists. During those eight years of being full time, God opened many doors that we had not yet had a chance to walk through. We were privileged to minister in several district junior camps, Bible quiz rallies and national Sunday School events, just to list a few. Until September of this year we have happily traveled sharing the gospel with children of all ages. In September, we were elected as pastor of Harvest Ministries in Springfield, Missouri. Although we know it was God’s perfect timing for us, it was still a bittersweet transition. We are hopeful for future opportunities to minister to children in other districts once in a while and in our home church as well. Children’s ministry will always be part of who we are, and I believe that it will be a significant avenue in which we will reach the lost of our community!
What does children’s evangelism mean to you?
Children’s ministry is very dear to my heart. Through this avenue of ministry I have personally seen souls of all ages come to know Christ. I love that the simplest of messages brought by a puppet or object lesson can touch a child and adult alike. I love seeing children begin their relationship with the Lord in these types of services.
Is there a need for more children’s evangelists?
There is a definite need for more children’s evangelists. Pastors and district leaders are always telling us that. There is a need for them to be more spread out across America too. It is hard for the smaller districts and churches to bring in evangelists from clear across the nation.
What are some requirements to have a successful children’s ministry?
There are several ingredients to have a successful children’s ministry. I believe the first is PASSION. Anyone can entertain children for a while, but someone with real passion and desire with God’s help will affect the lives of children they minister to. I also think you need to have a CHILD-LIKE quality in your own personality. That doesn’t mean childish, but you should be able to think and gear things to be on their level and have fun doing it. Another ingredient is to be FLEXIBLE. Anytime you work with children, anything can happen. You will learn from your mistakes in children’s ministry. Things that work for one group may not work for another, so allow this to make you stronger. BALANCE would be another ingredient, I would say, you need to be successful. What I mean is balance in your ministry style. I believe there is a time and place to have fun and cut up, but you must have a time for spiritual application and letting God move in the lives of the children. Also, a vital ingredient is finding your NITCH. Be comfortable being who you are and using the talents God has given you. There are many varieties and styles of children’s ministry out there, but you can’t be all those. The last ingredient would be to be INFORMED. I believe to stay ahead and on the cutting edge of children’s ministry you must educate yourself. Go to seminars, read books, subscribe to children’s ministry newsletters, blogs, etc. and network with others involved in children’s ministry.
Do you help other churches start children’s ministries?
Yes! We have helped several churches either start their children’s ministry from the ground up or revamp their program.
What would you say to a church that is trying to start a children’s ministry?
Well there’s a lot to be considered when starting a children’s ministry at a church.
- Make sure safety precautions have been addressed and set in place.
- It is best to utilize staff that has a burden for children and that type of ministry, not just warm bodies.
- Remember back to what it was like to be child. What drew your focus/held your attention? An exciting children’s ministry should be one that a child can taste, see, experience and REMEMBER!
- Obviously, I’m a bit biased, but if you can incorporate some type of puppetry in your program you wouldn’t regret it.
- Make sure your children’s program has identity, not just “First UPC Sunday School.” Come up with something that your children’s ministry program would be known by in town, that would turn heads and make people say, “That sounds fun … maybe my kids should visit there.” Our youth groups are great about labeling themselves and giving their programs identity and ownership. We should do the same for the little guys.
- Proper training for your staff is imperative. You want to give a quality to your children and it’s important that we’re educated, updated and networked.
What resources would you recommend?
Resources are everywhere. Internet is your best help for up-to-date resources/ideas. Networking with other children’s ministry leaders is a great way to stay energized and gain new ideas. Keep in mind, while looking for resources and material, a church will likely have to tweak the material to fit doctrinally and keep the “worldly influences” out of your program.