When a teacher quits or loses his or her position, it is difficult not just for the ministry but for the children in the class. If you happen to be an interim or the next teacher for the class or children’s church you may find it difficult talking to kids about what happened. How do you explain to children when a teacher quits? It is true that children are resilient and wonderfully forgiving however they do tend to take things personally. And how would you feel if someone you knew your whole life was suddenly not there? (That may not be the case in all situations but in some this is true.)
I recommend following the steps when teaching children how to cope with this kind of loss.
1. Begin by discouraging gossip. I am sure that you and I could share some hair-raising stories about teachers that leave the ministry. While there are plenty of innocent reasons for leaving a teaching position, we adults know that many times those reasons are not so innocent. Whatever the reason it is not appropriate to talk about those with children. Shining the light on a former leaders weaknesses will do no one any good. Instead, celebrate the wonderful things that leader accomplished. Say things like, “Remember the time Pastor Mike did this?”
2. Assure children that life and ministry goes on. Let kids know that you and the church are committed to continuing what the previous leader began. Remind kids that ministry is a team effort. The Apostle Paul said (and I am paraphrasing) that some ministers plant seed, some did the watering and some the harvesting. This continues today. Explain that not all leaders will be with us throughout our lives but they should be comforted in knowing that God is leading us all.
3. Tell kids specifically that any changes that have occurred is not their fault. As a child of divorce, I can attest to the fact that children often blame themselves during times of unwanted change. Don’t let this be the truth for your ministry. Without getting into the gossip of why the leader left, tell the kids that it was one hundred percent not their fault.
4. Talk more about everyone being on a journey. Use the life of Jesus as an example. Jesus rarely stayed in one place for too long. One reason why was because his ministry needed to be shared around the community. Look at the life of Paul. The Apostle Paul traveled all over sharing the good news with everyone he met. Perhaps the leader that left is undertaking this type of journey, even if his path is not clear to you or anyone else. Although this may not be apparent at the moment this could be the truth. Be hopeful!
5. Talk about the future with your class. Instead of focusing on the past and disappointment, get kids excited about the things that are coming up. The best way to leave the past behind is to look to the future.
You can do it! Read more from Mimi by following her blog at Tools for Kids Church.