If there is no value…

20 Apr

If there is no value

When good ideas go unheard

As a children’s director/pastor/worker, you’re fighting a war in the arena known as value.
The funny thing is, it’s not the children you’re battling – it’s their parents.

And, the less funny thing is, everyone else has a head start.
The church has operated, for the last quarter century, in a world where there is an assumed value on church.  The only problem is – that world no longer exists.

Here’s a short list of some basic West Coast family values:

  • Health
  • Scholastic achievement
  • Safety
  • Comfort
  • Stability
  • Happiness

The athletics/recreation industry has tapped into what parents value and, accordingly, parents often choose sports over church activities.
(You’re not the first person to have a child not attend a church camp to pitch in a softball game… and you won’t be the last.)
Why is this the case?
Parents have been told that getting their kids involved in sports will help develop attributes they value in their children.

You will have a thousand great ideas during your ministry career (paid or otherwise) but, unless the parents in your church place value on the vision you’re casting, many of those ideas and dreams will never find life.

Take, for example, the idea of a “Family Mission Project.”

If you’re in the field of children’s ministry, there’s a good chance that you know that the current trend is to label as many things as possible “Family” events.  Maybe you’re church’s service without full children’s programming is now your “Family” service.  Maybe your midweek events this summer will be “Family Fun” nights.  Or, maybe, you’ll try to get families engaged in creating a piece of God’s Kingdom here on Earth by partnering children and their parents in some good-old-fashioned-get-your-hands-dirty mission work… a “Family” mission project.

For discussion sake, we’ll take that last rabbit trail.

Mission work as a family looks great on paper.  In fact, you probably have a part of your community that needs some TLC.  Or, you may have a district in your city that is highly trafficked by a homeless population.  If you’re in California, then only a simple line drawn on a map separates your privileged life from the lives of the many citizens of Mexico who struggle each day to have enough food for themselves and their families.  Getting the families of your church involved in making those places look like a piece of Heaven on Earth could, for many churches looking to identify with the Missional church movement, be the slam dunk you’ve been waiting for.

Unfortunately, many of us in Children’s Ministry assume that ideas like this sell themselves.

We fail to recognize that, though we’re inundated with material pushing a shift to a family-oriented ministry, parents don’t receive that same bulk mail every day in their office mail box.  Many of us don’t understand why great ideas like this fail.

Quite simply put: the parents of our children do not desire to [insert your great idea here] because they have not been taught to value it.

So, you want to take families to Mexico to run a Vacation Bible School and/or build houses?  You’ll first have to teach your parents (in Sunday school classes, small groups, from the pulpit, at school board meetings, at baseball games, and everywhere else they are) that followers of Jesus are called to think of others first… and those others are not always only their children.  They will have to be taught to value the lives of those around them than they do their own lives.  They will have to value the idea of service before they throw their family into a project.  And, chances are, the bigger the impact the project will have… the more you’ll have to market the value of the idea first.

So… what did you do today to help parents begin to value the things God wants them to value?
How will your programs this week teach parents what things they should be desiring for their children?

If there is no value… your vision will die.


Posted by on April 20, 2009 in Kidmin


Tags: , , ,

6 responses to “If there is no value…

  1. Tom Beagan

    April 21, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Anthony, this is very insightful and full of thought provoking concepts. Thank you for sharing it. Our leadership team will be wrestling with what you have said here.


  2. Patricia Janssen

    April 21, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Boy, do I agree with you! I can’t count the number and variety of family-based ministry activities I created during my years on a church staff only to be disappointed that parents consistantly chose sports practices, etc over participating in them. Left coast or East coast? This happened to me both when I lived in CA and in PA. I think, in general, the church could certainly use some assistance in helping parents understand how important a child’s faith formation is to their WHOLE life, and how important parents are to the spiritual development of their children. Take a look at “Heartfelt”, a new free monthly e-letter for parents who seek support and practical ideas for teaching their children about what it means to follow Christ. [] Let me know what you think. Until the culture around us places the same value on these things, what can we do together to make a difference?


  3. Dean Butterfield

    April 23, 2009 at 11:10 am

    I have posted a couple of notes on my blog about this very topic, but from a little different perspective. It is sad where parents are placing their values today!!! I am not called to make the next American Idol or Michael Phelps – I am called to make a FULLY, COMMITTED Disciple of Christ. Nothing more.



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