Each fall my hometown hosts an Oktoberfest parade. For eighteen years we’ve watched from the same downtown corner and then driven to the same farmer’s field to prop the kids up among the pumpkins and snap their picture. When we began this annual event we had one child smiling among a sea of orange, now we’ve got four and have to tilt the camera to include some of their six-foot frames.
I’d like to say they’ve always been as excited about our annual pilgrimage as I have, but for many years I had to roll some of them out of bed, bribe them with promises of donuts and coffee, or, if all else failed, slip shoes and sweaters on their sleeping bodies and haul them into the van myself. (And that was just my husband.) Getting them on board wasn’t always easy, but now they wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Getting folks on board with your church’s children’s ministry program can be a struggle too. And often it’s the “Two P’s” (Pastors and Parents) that can be the toughest group to catch your passion. Although a little sweet-talking with donuts and coffee can bring some success, I’ve got a few other ideas you might want to try this fall.
Pastors: Children’s ministry leaders often tell me that their pastor “doesn’t have a clue” about what happens each week in the church’s children’s ministry program. One of the best ways for your pastor to catch the vision for kid’s ministry is by seeing it in action. Ask your pastor to stop by your program for a short visit. (Aim for once in the fall and then again in winter and spring.) Make connections during large group with an up close and personal interview — using your curling iron microphone of course! Find out the things your kids really want to know about their pastor by asking questions like:
- What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
- Who do you hope will win the World Series?
- What hockey team do you cheer for?
- What did you collect when you were a kid?
- Was there anything you didn’t like about church when you were a kid?
- Who was your favorite teacher in school and why?
- What was your favorite thing to do at recess?
- What’s your favorite Bible story?
- How do you know God loves you?
After the interview invite you pastor to stay and see what happens during a typical week in your program. Chances are your pastor will enjoy the residual results of the visit — like suddenly being greeted by kids in the halls! If you’re a teacher, consider making your pastor the recipient of a craft/card/poster kids make in class during the year or inviting your pastor to be a special guest sometime.
Parents: Have a simple ten- to fifteen-minute open house at the end of one of the year’s first Sunday school sessions and invite families who are picking up their kids to come in and see what you do each week. Run a shortened version of your lesson by re-telling the Bible story and sing a song. Allow time for parents to meet each of their kid’s leaders and find out what's happening at various grade levels. Tip: This would be a great time for leaders to show parents the take home pieces of the curriculum and offer ideas for using them at home.
Getting others on board your ministry wagon takes time but the final destination is always worth the effort!