My perspective, that non-Christians could serve in a church’s Children’s Ministry, probably puts me in the far minority among church leaders.
Most evangelical churches say that non-Christians should not serve in Children’s Ministry, or even in some other areas of the church. In my time as a pastor, I had a viewpoint that was different than most of my fellow pastors. I loved hearing their perspectives and learning from them, as it made me question my own motives and biases.
Why They Shouldn’t
Wayne Stocks wrote a series of articles for Kidmin1124 on the topic of volunteers in Children’s Ministry. In one post, he listed some non-negotiable qualifications, including that the volunteer should be a “professing believer of Christ.” His concern, rightly so, is that “the spiritual nourishment of God’s children is at stake.” After all, how can someone lead another (especially a child) to a place where he is not at himself?
In a related article, Michael McKinley states that churches should exclude non-Christians from certain privileges (including serving and small groups) for the sake of protecting the flock. While I agree that protecting a flock is a core responsibility of elders and other church leaders, I suppose that how we define “visitor,” “flock,” and “small groups” can vary from church to church.
Why They Could
Notice I say that they could serve, not they should serve. Whereas I rarely hesitated to challenge non-serving Christians to step up, I would not do this for non-Christians. I might ask, but just to give them an opportunity. Here’s why I think it was often good for them to serve:
- Opportunity to connect with others in the body. One large multi-site church that I talked with used serving as a chance to help visitors feel included. The idea was not to put the visitor in a place where he felt isolated, but to partner him with a friend who was already serving. The mindset was, “Come serve with me.”
- Be under the leadership and shepherding of other leaders. We’ve had leaders who have connected with parents and volunteers, encouraging them to attend church, go to membership classes, and be a part of Bible studies. If this non-member didn’t hear this from the Volunteer Coach that they were serving under, who would they have heard it from, on a personal level?
- Use gifts to meet a need. There is always a need for more volunteers. When we “needed” 240 volunteers my first year on staff, we had 220. When we “needed” 550, we had 520. Needed 770, had 720. It’s just how it goes, right? But think about it from the volunteer’s perspective. Serving is a great opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself. When you are using your time and gifts for a good purpose, it just feels good. You would want to come back.
- Do we really know? Especially at our large and growing church, I struggled with the concept of how we would always know if someone is a believer. Especially for folks growing up in a church setting, they could recite the language that they needed to, and sign a covenant agreement acknowledging certain biblical truths. But this doesn’t mean it is real in their heart. Yes, you could make the case that if you know someone is not a Christian, that would eliminate them. But I would rather deal with an honest seeker, than someone who is either deceiving themselves or others out of fear, apathy, or laziness.
Be sure to read some concluding thoughts, including where non-Christians could serve and what we need to remember if we do allow non-Christians to serve. For now, I’d love your thoughts:
Do you think it’s ok for a non-Christian to serve in Children’s Ministry? Why or why not?