Last year a couple of other kids pastors posted how they are Children’s pastors not family pastors.
Here is Justyn Smith’s Take http://www.justynsmith.com/2010/04/childrens-pastor-not-family-pastor-at-heart/
Here is Joe Mcalpine’s take http://www.joemcalpine.com/?p=737
Justyn and Joe had some great points but here is my take on the debate between family ministry and kids ministry.
When I first started doing kids ministry we had fewer kids than we do today and I also knew less about leading a children’s ministry then. I still have lots to learn but one of the things I have learned is that if I focus on being a “Kids Pastor” I produce a model of ministry that is not reproducible.
Why thinking of yourself as only a kids pastor limits your effectiveness
1. You create a Hero mentality – You feel like it is your job to connect with and to be solely responsible for each child’s faith journey, as a family pastor you see the bigger picture and realize that no matter how talented you are you need a team at church and you need a team at home.
2. You create a co-dependent relationship with parents – One of he biggest problems in kid ministry is parents who hand the spiritual responsiblity of for their kids over to the kids pastor who is the “spiritual expert.” At the same time you have kids pastors willing to except the role as the spiritual expert in the life of every kid at church because they want to be seen as the hero in the eyes of every kid and every family. As a family pastor you focus on teaching kids how to connect to God and parents how to connect to their kids you see value in helping others be the hero.
3. You tend to try to do most things yourself – When you view yourself as a kids pastor first you focus on your relationship with the kids you serve to the detriment of the infrastructure you need to build to support future growth. When you look at things through the eyes of a family pastor you see the need to get the whole staff, the whole church to understand that no one can do ministry, especially kids ministry alone. As a family pastor I realize my #1 responsibility is not ministering to kids but in raising leaders to minister to kids. When you try to do things yourself and you think like a kids pastor you leave a legend and you don’t leave a legacy.
The best way to transform the life of every kid in your ministry is to change the environment they go home to Sunday morning. One of the reasons I have a hard time with most inner city outreaches is because kids experience heaven at the park where your tent is set up but that night head back to hell on earth where they live. Having said all of that I believe as a pastor the best thing I can do is work on how the church can impact the family.
One of the trends I find disturbing and this could be what caused Justyn, Joe and everyone who commented to react is how much energy we put into trying to get into the homes of the kids we serve. As a pastor the best thing I can do is create environments at the church where life change can take place, where kids can hear, understand, and respond to the Gospel. I need to work hard to make sure I have a team that makes that happen. With whatever resources I have left I need to empower parents to do the same at home. The church must never forget that we are called to be the church. (I am way to long in this post here is more on that thought http://samluce.com/?p=3955)
Families are more mobile then ever. Our influence is temporary. We need to leverage our influence to help parents become what God intend them to be the primary influencers of a child’s spiritual journey.
So even though my business card says I am the children’s pastor at my church I am really a family pastor at heart.