Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (I Timothy 4:12, ESV)
After serving as a children’s ministry volunteer in my home congregation for three years during high school, two small churches in southern California invited me to serve as their part-time Youth Director.
I worked at the first church on Sundays. This congregation met in an elementary school, and each week I would pack the trunk of my car with equipment and supplies to set up at the school. And each week, I would remove the equipment and supplies from the classroom we used and loaded them back into my car to store at home.
Over time my responsibilities grew to lead four children’s programs each Lord’s Day. First, I taught a Sunday School class for Junior High and Senior High students, immediately followed by Junior Church, which I led for children ages 5-12.
A kind family in the church would feed me lunch and let me rest at their home in-between morning and evening youth programs.
At 4:30 PM, I would lead a youth meeting for teens, and then at 6:00 PM, I led the Fisherman’s Club for children in elementary school. Because there was no church building, we held these programs in rented spaces at a bowling alley and athletic club, and we also met in homes.
The second church I worked for part-time was 25 miles in the opposite direction, and that is where I served on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. On Mondays after school, I led the Ever-Ready Club for children in grades 5-8. When school was over on Wednesdays, I taught children in grades K-4 at the Fisherman’s Club. The kids walked or rode the bus from school to the church.
At the peak, I was in charge of planning, organizing, and overseeing six programs each week, with children ranging in age from 5-18.
Because each church had very limited resources, purchasing expensive curriculum was out of the question, so I developed my lesson plans.
I remember this as a very creative time in my ministry. I constantly had to come up with new ideas for Bible lesson plans and activities. As a result, I gained valuable ministry experience that would prove helpful in the years ahead.
Juggling college and working at two churches simultaneously was a challenge.
I learned some early lessons on how to interact with the children and their parents. I also grew as a teacher, teaching kids between the ages of 5 and 18, which was a stretch.
In addition, the two pastors I worked with had very different personalities, and each church was structured differently in how they governed, which was all a part of my learning curve.
I was 19 years old and single when I begin working at both churches. Looking back at those years, I realize how young and inexperienced I was, but I was enthusiastic and wanted to grow as a children’s ministry leader.
I became acquainted with several older Youth Ministers whom I looked up to. Some of them taught at Christian conferences I attended and gave me counsel. I relished each opportunity I had to spend with those Youth Ministers and to learn from them.
I also look back in horror at some of the dumb things I did. I made many mistakes along the way, but God used me to minister to the kids at these two churches by His grace.
In children’s ministry, we don’t always see the fruit of our labor. We sow lots of seeds, but often, someone else reaps the harvest years later. So I am thankful that God has given me a small glimpse of what He accomplished in some of those boys and girls over the years. I praise God for the kids at these two churches who placed their faith in Jesus as their Savior and Lord. But, on the other hand, I grieve for those children who heard the gospel but did not believe.
Today, the children I ministered to more than 42 years ago are now parents and grandparents.
FOR YOUR MINISTRY TOOLBOX
- If you are a young children’s ministry leader, set an example for other Christians by how you live and lead your ministry. Meditate on I Timothy 4:12.
- If you are an older and experienced leader, find a new children’s ministry leader to mentor and encourage.
TAGS: I Timothy 4:12, Introduction, Getting Started, Small Churches, Mentors
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