I serve a Presbyterian church as the Children’s Ministry Director and am the staff liaison for the Children’s Ministry Committee. The committee is made up of members of the congregation and meets monthly to direct and guide the aspects of children’s ministry.
It is my job to pull this group together from interested volunteers. It is composed primarily of parents, educators, and retirees. As in any volunteer organization, the members of the committee change from year to year as children grow into the next age group, or people have shifts in their availability. Often the committee is made up mostly of women, especially moms and teachers. We continue to reach out to fathers, grandfathers, and other men for more diversity. It is a challenge with the deeply woven patterns of volunteerism that are traditionally divided by gender.
I enjoy working with this small group to iron out details of children’s Sunday school, participation in worship, special events, fellowship, and music opportunities. We plan out the scope of Bible stories for children to learn each year in Sunday school. We find and train teachers and shepherds to lead classes. We plan out special events like a fall homecoming festival and the Advent craft fair. Outside of the details of running the program, we also put our minds together to envision new ways to welcome families and children to our congregation.
Some of the most difficult work we have faced has come since COVID began. Children and families have not experienced worship and Christian education in the past three years in the same way as we did before the pandemic. Finding volunteers to teach classes or be a shepherd used to be much easier. People are less inclined to sign up for dates more than a month or two away. We also have a section of families who are brand new to all the patterns of the church year and activities.
Occasionally there are conflicts that arise in the group. In my experience it usually stems from members taking on uneven levels of responsibility and feeling overwhelmed and upset with others who seem to be less dedicated. Over time I have learned to help the members communicate openly with each other so that those irritations do not grow into rifts. Sometimes the answer is to see that we are trying to accomplish too much and that everyone needs to pull back a little bit.
I am grateful for every person who volunteers on the Children’s Ministry Committee. I know that we find much deeper meaning in providing Christian faith formation for children because of the work we do together.