Have you noticed this trend? Parents or grandparents drop off kids (sometimes way before service time) and then take off until church is over. They aren’t actually attending church themselves–just the children. Understand me, I’m not talking about the parent who has to go to work. I am referring to the disturbing new kids’ ministry challenge–the drop off kids. If you’re not involved in children’s ministry you might be asking, “What’s the big deal? Aren’t we here to minister to the community?” I don’t think a single children’s pastor would disagree with you but there are a challenges concerning the drop off kids that you might not be considering.
Drop Off Kids: The Negative Side
The sight of little faces pressed up the glass window of your children’s church is a sad sight indeed but I’m sure I’m not the only one to see this. Without an official handover in responsibility, kids can only hope that some other adult will step up and help them. That’s got to be stressful on a young heart. What kind of message does this send to those children?
For the children’s worker, knowing you are solely responsible for a child who isn’t yours, at least in the immediate sense is also highly stressful. Not to mention all the legal conundrums the ministry is left with if something goes wrong. Also, seeing a van load of neighborhood kids dropped off without anyone bothering to register them properly makes it impossible to know what to do. It’s demoralizing in a sense. Personally, one mother dropped off her toddler with an elementary age child without leaving any information or even a diaper bag. Children’s ministry teams have enough to do without chasing people down in the parking lot. We want to be involved in ministry, not policing the families we’re trying to reach.
Looking On the Positive Side
Now that I’ve pointed out a few of the negatives, let’s look at the positive side of things. (And yes there are a few!) While you do have to deal with the drop off kids challenge, you can choose to look at it differently. First, when this happens see it for what it is, a parent’s cry for help. You’ve probably noticed that dropped off kids sometimes have behavior problems, a symptom of other problems. Whether they created the dysfunction or not, parents have to deal with it. They need help! Having grown up in an abusive home, I would have loved that my parent would have dropped me off somewhere where I could be loved on for a little while. Consider offering parenting classes to your community. Let the parents engaging in this type of behavior that you are available if they need someone to talk to. Also on the positive side, you have a family crying out for ministry. If a mom or dad trusts you with their child, that says a lot. See the situation for what it is, a chance to reach out.
The Bottom Line
If you’re seeing this happen in your ministry, take action immediately. Set some rules about drop offs and include all the teachers and staff. Don’t get allow yourself to feel guilty about asking for someone to follow the rules. Be willing to work with adults and children who need you but don’t allow the chaos of a dysfunctional family life seep into your ministry. You can do it!
Read more from Mimi by following her blog at Tools for Kids Church.
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