This article is the last in a series planned by The Children’s Ministry Committee (CMC) to generate interest in the opportunity to serve and engage with children and families on Sundays. Hopefully, you read the article written by a frequent classroom volunteer leader, two articles by parents* outlining what it means to them to have volunteers in their children’s classrooms, and the article last month from CMC member, Tim Johnson. Now it’s my turn, as the Director of The Children’s Ministries, to finalize the message.
Every month, the Church Council asks for a report, and they include the question, “What have been your challenges?”
I write the same answer every month:
Our number one challenge as a committee and as a whole congregation, continues to be meeting the growing number of attending children with a growing number of volunteers to co-lead in Sunday groups.
No other challenge compares in complexity or immediate need.
The CMC has worked hard this year to “rebrand” what it means to co-lead in a children’s class on Sundays.
We decided to stop calling it Sunday “School,” and to stop asking volunteers to “Teach,” because we were so often told that persons didn’t see themselves as teachers, and believed they had no skills in school classrooms. We knew immediately that we needed to change how we as a congregation think about our children’s Sunday groups. (Notice how I called it a Sunday group instead of “Sunday School?”)
Being in a classroom with our congregation’s children is an opportunity to play, experience fellowship, and to explore and deepen our own faith, and by so doing, serve as models for them. We never need to go into any children’s group believing we have all the knowledge and all the answers. Classroom leaders (not “teachers,” but “leaders”) have told me that when they looked into whatever the class theme was for the day, they learned so much by being involved in precisely this way. In her Church & Home article last May, Kathie Vitz reminded us that “faith is affiliative.”
Experience Church in a new way
Do you sometimes think serving in children’s classes means you’ll “miss church?” We joyfully respond that church goes on in every single room in the building every Sunday. Co-leaders of elementary children’s groups often enjoy the benefit of getting the sermon message early, because I speak with pastors each week to find out how to adapt their message about scripture for the children. Elementary class plans are frequently created directly from the sermons our pastors plan to give that Sunday. We strive to have everyone in the church, from young to senior, receive the same message while here, so that conversations can continue throughout the day and week beyond church. Being in a classroom with children is not missing church, but it’s experiencing church in a different way.
Here’s the opportunity
Those who have ever served as volunteer coordinators share the awkwardness of watching how their relationships change in their communities. The common refrain is “People look so frightened when they see me coming. They all think I’m about to ask them to do something, and they run away!”
A while back, Pastor Amy Roon wrote an article with the theme, “Don’t Fear The Ask.” Her point was that if you’re asked to volunteer in any capacity in our church, it’s because your qualities have been admired and an opportunity is extended to you. The most important part is that everyone at church respects a “No” answer as well as a “Yes.” Amy always taught us that a genuine “no” is so much better than a fraught “yes.” We hold to that. And we extend an ask and an opportunity to you: Please would you consider volunteering as a co-leader in a children’s class?