Have you ever had “that moment?” The moment in kids’ ministry when you’re in front of a group of young children trying to explain the gospel to them, and God gives you words that you know must have come from him because you’re not smart enough to explain it that way? I had that moment this past weekend. In that moment of the presentation of the gospel, I could literally feel God working. Now, I know that feelings can be deceptive, and in the end it is about the truth of God and not feelings. But, God gave us feelings, and in that moment I felt it! I wasn’t necessarily saying anything I haven’t said before dozens of times. Much of it, I actually said exactly as I have on prior occasions, but somehow this was just different. This was a God thing, and it just felt like the kids got it! You know the feeling I hope.
Anyhow, I always end my gospel presentation by inviting the kids to come talk to me if they have any questions about how to make Jesus Lord of their lives. I half expected to be bombarded with such questions the moment our large group time was over. Instead – no questions! Maybe they’ll ask after class when their parents pick them up I reasoned. Class ended – again no questions! I faced a choice in that moment – I could be distraught that I hadn’t gotten the response I wanted and expected, or I could praise God for giving me the words and letting me be part of that moment.
I remember an article I read several weeks ago written by Gina McClain. I had actually started to write this article last Friday, so Gina’s article was fresh in my mind. You can call it good luck if you want. I call it God’s divine providence. The article, titled Forward Momentum, is based on the idea that accomplishments are not generally birthed out of singular event but rather a series of momentum building steps. Gina writes:
You can’t create change without forward momentum. And momentum is a multi-step process.
For example, when in a volunteer “slump”, a single volunteer connection event will not meet our needs entirely. A single bulletin note will not effectively communicate the opportunities to serve. A single weekend of intentional invitations will not fill all the holes.
But a series of these events and actions working in tandem can generate forward momentum moving you closer to the goal… a full team of volunteers.
The principle focus of Gina’s article is on the accomplishment of individual goals, but I think the point is also applicable to the overall impact of the work we do in ministry. So many times in ministry, and I think particularly in children’s ministry, it is easy to get discouraged because we don’t see things happening NOW! Rather than work on God’s schedule, we look for immediate results. In children’s ministry in particular, so much of what we do is sow the seed, and we often don’t get to participate in the reaping of that harvest. God does, however, allow us to share in the momentum building moments that eventually send a child speeding down the road that is a life lived for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
There will be setbacks in our ministry to be sure. We can view them as road blocks that we will never get past, or we can use the momentum that we have already built (or build new momentum) to blow right through them. Setbacks are not a sign of failure but a chance to allow the momentum from earlier moments to carry us through or a chance to start some new momentum. Allow me to elaborate with an example.
I teach a wonderful class of kindergartners and first graders. Every summer at the begging of June, we lose our 1st graders who graduate up to the 2nd grade room, and we get a brand new batch of fresh faced Kindergarteners. That is a bit of a misnomer if we’re being honest though. Our new kindergarteners are not actually kindergarteners yet. They will be in the fall. For now though, what we really get is a batch of preschoolers (at best) and kids who have never been in a formal teaching setting (at worst). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I love the new kids who come into our room whether they are visitors or new “kindergarteners” because it gives me a chance to share the gospel of Christ with another child. New kindergarteners do, however, bring with them a new set of challenges.
I believe that many people underestimate the potential kids have to learn and process the deeper truths of God, and in our ministry we work my hard not to do that. I like to challenge the kids to learn more and grow deeper with God than people would expect they were able to, and over the two years that I have them, we get to experience a lot of growth with the kids because we don’t decide ahead of time that there are things they aren’t capable of understanding. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but come the beginning of summer when we get a whole new batch of kids, that tends to throw a little bit of a monkey wrench into our forward movement we’ve been making all year as we slow down significantly to allow the new kids time to “catch up” and start there own ball rolling down the lane of spiritual growth.
Instead of viewing this time as a setback in our ministry, Gina’s article helped me to view this as an opportunity to build off of the momentum we already have (with remaining 1st graders) and to create new momentum with the the younger kids. Just because we are stepping back to where they are in terms of spiritual growth does not mean that we have to lose our momentum. Instead it presents a whole new set of opportunities. The new 1st graders get to step into a pseudo-leadership role as they help the younger kids adapt to the room. The older kids get to exercise some of the momentum they have built up over the last year. And, the younger kids give us a chance to begin the process of building momentum with them. Like most things in life, when viewed through our own lenses, times like this can seem like an inconvenience – we have to slow down, we have to go back, we have to re-teach. However, viewed through the eyes of God, he has trusted us to shepherd a new batch of his kids and to build the momentum in their lives that will, God willing, lead them to him.
What are you doing to build momentum in your ministry?
Gina is a trusted source of inspiration and wisdom when it comes to children’s ministry and one of the “deep thinkers” of the children’s ministry field. If you haven’t already, you should definitely check out her blog at GinaMcClain.com.