Good News and Goldfish [A reflection on two years of kids ministry]

Being a children’s pastor was never part of MY plan. I didn’t get a degree in theology or ministry or adolescent development.

I hung out with a lot of ministry and theology majors in college and while they studied small group formation and Bonhoeffer, I lugged around stacks of novels and wrote papers on the humanist ideologies within Jane Eyre.

I guess you could say that God sort of threw me into my current role. Prepared me in unconventional ways. And even on the challenging days, I consider the calling to be a sacred one. One I’m so glad I said ‘Yes’ to, when He asked. [If you ever want to hear that story, it’s actually pretty cool!}

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Over the past two years, I’ve seen it all. All including but not limited to projectile vomit, walls covered in urine, screaming babies, smiling children, baptisms, sweet prayers, and little voices that never cease to melt my heart. I’ve seen scripture come alive, developed a philosophy on spiritual formation, and been welcomed so warmly by the hearts of incredible families.

And I have made so many little friends. And I really do call them friends.

God led me into a safe space right when He knew I needed it. But in the same way he leads us to things, He often leads us away. A new season is coming for me. One that I’m both excited for and terrified by.

After being strongly prompted by the Holy Spirit to step away from my ministry job at the beginning of February, I decided to walk in obedience and open my hands for whatever He has for me next.

At the end of July, I will step out of the role of Children’s pastor. And as I sit here in the quiet of my home, my heart swells with gratitude at all I have been given.

I think I was given the chance to see into the heart of God.

To begin to understand that there is no separation between anyone in the family of God. We are not separated by age or base of knowledge. There is no “us” and “them.” There is simply a ‘WE.’

We the church. We the body of Christ.

That the same God and the same spirit that speaks to you and I speaks to a four year old or a ten year old or a sixteen year old.

I was given the gift of seeing that children’s ministry is more than goldfish and good news. More than games and skits and lively music. More than programs and childcare for parents.

It’s disciple making. It’s Kingdom building. It’s the “right now” church—not tomorrow’s church.

And I walk away believing that we should more and more invite our children into the spiritual practices we participate in. Prayers for healing. Communion. Baptism. Giving. Serving.

Because I have seen little hands touch the sick with such faith and belief. I have seen little voices cry out, “God healed me!” I have seen little hearts with so much love for their God.

They fueled the flame in my own heart when the doubt crept in and created dark shadows of disbelief.

There were days I lost sight of the sacred in it all. Days I was tired or frustrated or feeling burnt out. Days I’d focus too much on the supplies that needed to be purchased or the crafts to be cut out or the volunteers that needed to be rounded up. There were times where I felt like maybe the work I was doing wasn’t as important or deep or spiritual as the sermons brought to the adult congregation each Sunday.

But then they’d meet me, their sweet smiles and innocence washing over my tired spirit. And there, God met me.

And my heart was stirred to remember what children’s ministry IS.

It’s ushering hearts to the feet of Jesus. It’s the joining of generations in a grand narrative of redemption and grace.

 It’s WE the church. WE the Kingdom of God.

Ethos Church, thank you for taking this stranger in and loving me so well. What a joy it has been to play a role in such a special area and in such a special church. Words truly cannot convey how grateful I feel. God is working through His people, and I am so changed by the love and friendship of both my church family and the staff I have had the privilege to work with. You are my friends. My family. You are proof to me that we serve a living God who gives us abundantly more than we ask for or deserve.

Peace be the journey.

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