“Did you attend church services this week?”
Most Children’s Ministry Leaders would answer “No” to this question.
- “I had teachers not show up so I had to fill in.”
- “There’s just too much to do on Sunday mornings for me to get to church regularly.”
- “I think it’s more important for me to be in the kids’ area than to be in services.”
- “I teach the kids every week, so I can’t make it in to church.”
- It’s OK because I listen to the service online on Sunday afternoons.”
These and other responses are what I hear often as I teach at conferences or coach young Children’s Ministry Leaders.
Are they acceptable excuses? Is it ok for the Children’s Ministry Leader to NOT be in church services more than the ARE in church services?
I would so no, it’s not OK to not attend services on a regular basis. Here’s why:
1. You need to participate in corporate worship with other members of the body.
I know, the service is not the only place to worship. But it’s typically the only place the entire body comes together to worship. I believe there is something special about this, a form of worship which one can only experience collectively. Perhaps that is why, in Hebrews 10:25, we are instructed to not “neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
2. Being in church exposes you to the vision, mission & values put forth by church leadership in a manner you can’t hear it anywhere else.
Yes, you are part of the leadership of the church. But you are also part of the body of Christ (first and foremost). You need to hear your pastor sharing the vision. You need to participate in the mission of the church as part of the body at large. You need to be reminded and continually embrace the values of the church.
You really can’t do that if you are not hearing them regularly in the context of the church body.
“The difference between listening to a radio sermon [or in today’s world, online] and going to church, is almost like the difference between calling your girl on the phone and spending an evening with her.” D.L. Moody
3. You need to be an example to your family.
I understand this doesn’t apply to every Children’s Ministry Leaders, but it applies to most. We need to be in church with our family. Our kids need to see us worship and/or to know that worshiping with the body of Christ is important. Our spouse needs to know that it’s important, and that it’s important for us to be there with them.
Whether we attend church or not, we are setting an example of its value to our family.
4. Not attending services gives our volunteers permission to not attend services.
In the same vein as #2, when we don’t go to church, we give our volunteers (and staff, if you have them) permission not to go to church. Is that really the example you want to set for them? Do you really believe that none of you going to church is going to enhance what you do in Children’s Ministry?
When we blow off church but expect our volunteers to still maintain its importance, we really are just reinforcing the mentality that church staff are special. That being the head of the department sets you apart and, somehow, you are less vulnerable spiritually than they are.
That’s a dangerous mentality to embrace and, frankly, most likely just the opposite is true – you are as much or more of a target of the enemy as your team. Be careful.
5. Being in the service gets you out of your Children’s Ministry bubble.
I’ve seen it over and over again, and experienced it myself. We tend to get in a “bubble” in Children’s Ministry which ends up limiting us personally and professionally.
Personally, we end up associating with only Children’s Ministry people and their families. That’s not a bad thing! However, when you only interact with one set of people, you tend to think in very limited terms.
Professionally, our job as Children’s Ministry Leader is to engage the body as a whole so that we can invite and equip people to serve in Children’s (and Family) Ministry. If we’re always in our little bubble, how are we going to engage those outside of that bubble?
Here’s the bottom line when it comes to attending church . . .
Most of us don’t attend church because we either haven’t led our ministry to the point where we have leaders who can function and lead without us being present, or we aren’t willing to let them lead.
Read that again.
Within 2 to 3 years of assuming responsibility for your Children’s Ministry, even the worst functioning ministry should be in a place where leaders can lead effectively without you. “How?” you say? Well, that’s what this blog is all about, so read some of the other posts to help you understand what’s important and how to lead effectively.
If the reason is that you just can’t let go and feel you need to do everything yourself, then you are inhibiting the growth of your ministry, which I would highly advise against. Again, read some of our other posts to understand how you might be able to develop leaders to whom you can give the ministry away.
And now . . . get to church!
Please share your thoughts & experiences in the comments below.