We are excited to introduce to you the newest member of our Faith Formation Ministries team: Mimi Larson. Mimi serves as the CRC's Children's Ministry Catalyzer.
1. Can you describe for us a key person (or people) who played an important role in your faith formation?
After my parents' marriage broke down, a family in our church came alongside my mother and took our family in as their own. This couple became second parents to me. They cared for me when my mom couldn't. I sat at their table for dinner and to do my homework. They brought me to church and I watched them live out their faith and serve in the church. I can still hear my "uncle's" voice when we sing certain hymns in church and he also took me out on "father-daughter" dates. To this day, he still considers me one of his own. The woman I am today has their fingerprints all over it—the marriage I have, the way my husband and I embrace hospitality in our home, and how my faith has been shaped. I owe them a debt of gratitude for all they did to pour love into me then and still today.
2. You have been engaged in children’s ministry for over 25 years as a Children's Ministry Director in churches of all sizes, as a children’s curriculum writer, and as a college and seminary professor in the area of children’s ministry. How you think those experiences will enrich your work for Faith Formation Ministries?
I think I bring a dual understanding to ministry - both a practical and thoughtful way of this work. I served in children's ministries for over 25 years—both in large and small churches, so I get the real day in and day out work of ministry. I know what it is like to try to find volunteers to staff a ministry. I understand the challenges of improving and strengthening a ministry or program. I have experienced the tension of making ministry fun and attractive but also theologically and educationally strong. I have experienced these things—had some great successes as well as some challenges along the way. As you pointed out, I am also a college and seminary teacher and this academic work grounds my work in children's ministry, providing a strong foundation to build the practical ministry upon.
3. What are some of your favorite parts about working in Children's Ministry?
KIDS! Why doesn't everyone want to work in children's ministry for that reason alone?
One of my favorite parts about working in children's ministry is the constant reminder of what it means to be a child and in turn, a child of God. Children engage with God, the biblical story, and biblical truths in such a way that inspires and encourages me in my faith and causes me to wonder. Seriously, preschoolers can keep you on your toes with some pretty deep questions! Children’s Ministries is where you need to keep it real. I like a good theological conversation but when you work with children you have to take these theological ideas and put “feet” to them. I can’t get caught up in my theological jargon or lofty ideas. Children will ask “What does that mean?” or “Why?” or “What did God do with all those animals on the ark? Did skunks still smell? Did bears hibernate the whole time?” Those basic questions bring me back to earth and makes my theology grounded.
I also love working with people, so being part of a team was a joy. One of my gifts is administration, so I enjoyed the planning and brainstorming for an event or ministry and figuring out how to strengthen and deepen our approach to nurturing faith in children.
4. Let’s say we're sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it's been for you as a Children's Ministry Catalyzer for the CRC. What will we have achieved together?
First, I would love to see relationships established between those who are working with children in the local church (both with me and with one another). My desire is for those who are working in the church to feel that they are equipped and when they have a need, to know where to go for help. It would be exciting to see a group of children’s ministry directors from around the country getting together once a month online to share their joys and struggles in ministry, brainstorming together how to strengthen and deepen their ministries. And that leads me to my second desire. I would love to see ministries in the local church deepened and strengthened. This would ultimately mean that children are growing in their faith and that is what children’s ministry is all about.
5. If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and how would you use it in your role as a Children's Ministry Catalyzer?
Of all the questions you asked me, this is the one that stumped me the most! When working with children, I think superhuman strength, the power to heal, and superhuman endurance would all be essential powers to have! But it is typical for me to say, I don’t have enough time in my day. So, time manipulation might be very helpful! I feel like I don't have enough time to get done everything that this position requires. Wouldn't it be great to slow down time so I could get 16 hours of work done in 8? If only that was possible! Along with that, time goes too quickly and I want to enjoy each moment that I live.
If you have children's ministry questions or challenges, contact Mimi at firstname.lastname@example.org!