Not Just Kids -- Part 1 (Volunteers)

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I'm so glad we didn't give up on her.  She was about to begin her senior year of high school when she came in to audition for one of our Children's Ministry bands.  She had a great voice, and we were excited to get her on the team.  So far, so good.

But when I saw her for the first time singing on stage, with about 80 kids in the room, I wondered if it was going to work.  She sang meekly, standing with her arms folded across her chest, instead of singing loudly and doing the expected motions with the songs.  We gave her some things to say to introduce a song, but she merely read the sentences off the paper.  Without active body language, without passion, and without engaging the kids, it was obvious that many of the kids had tuned her out and lost interest.

Fast forward about 6 months.  This same young lady was again on stage.  This time she sang out loud, exuberantly doing the motions to the songs.  When it came time for her to talk, it felt like she was having a conversation with the kids.  She was great!   What happened in between?  Some veteran leaders had been encouraging her, giving her pointers, and loving on her.  And when the school year was over, we made it a point to encourage her to keep using her God-given gifts when she headed off to college. 

This experience reminded us that children's ministry is not just about the kids -- it's at least as much about the volunteers.  Yes, our ultimate end is to disciple the next generation, but in doing this, we must also be sure to make disciples of the leaders.  If the volunteers and leaders are growing and equipped for service, and if they feel responsible for ministry, then the children will be taken care of. 

At the outset, it would have been easier to give her a month or so to get it right, before encouraging her to find somewhere else to serve.  It would have been easier to let her continue, but scheduling her less often or giving her non-prominent roles.  It would have been better (in the short-term) for our programming to not let her be involved; don't get me wrong -- our programming suffered slightly, for a little while.  But I'm glad that those other leaders came alongside her.  I'm glad that this young lady had a chance to grow, mature, and trust.  I'm glad that she was encouraged in her talents and will continue to use them for God's Kingdom.  I'm glad that I ran into her recently, and she kept telling me how excited she is to get involved in singing for a campus ministry.

I'm so glad that we didn't give up on her.  She, like hundreds of other examples, reminds me that children's ministry is not just about kids.  And if you are a volunteer, remember that God is using this opportunity to grow you in Him, to help you depend on His grace and power.

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