The children’s ministry, at the churches I have been in over the last few months, has been much more diverse than the congregation as a whole. I recently read from Sam Rainer, in 10 Unexpected Trends to Surface in 2020, that the United States will be minority white by 2042 and pre-schools much sooner – by 2021. He talks about the need for children’s ministry leaders to have experience in and a passion for diversity. This spurred my thinking about this topic.
Kids will probably lead the way in this regard. What church doesn’t want to welcome a child – no matter the background? And the children’s ministry leaders will help set the tone, for the ministry, for the church and for the future.
How can children’s ministry leaders grow in experience and passion for the diversity they are experiencing or will soon experience in their ministries?
1) Remember that every child is unique – every child experiences different family traditions and upbringing – which makes each child unique. You don’t have to tiptoe around differences among the kids in your group – each kid is as unique as the next.
2) Don’t be afraid to ask questions – Don’t hesitate to ask questions to the families – find out about the kids, about their stories. For example, I have experienced that families of adopted children, especially those from another nationality, love to tell the story.
3) Get to know families around your church neighborhood – Who, in the three mile radius around your church building can be can be invited, served, loved? Find ways to do this. Step out. Invite others to join you. And don’t wait until you have the time and everything perfectly ready – or you never will invite, serve and love your neighbors.
4) Model a love for people – of all backgrounds – to the kids in your ministry and your congregation Actions speak louder than words.
5) Don’t single out kids – in either direction Some people make the mistake of overlooking a kid based on background. Others may make the mistake of becoming obsessed with the kid of a different nationality, different economic background, etc. They are all kids. Love them. Serve them. Discipline them. In other words, relax. Don’t make too much commotion about diversity in your group.
6) Don’t get upset if you don’t have diversity It’s still very true – people will congregate with those “like us”. However, the difference is that, as the nationality and culture of our country changes, the younger generation will become more comfortable in a multicultural country. It won’t be an issue of “diversity” as much as it will be churches reaching the community. Just serve where you are. Welcome those who come. Love kids and be ready to lead them to Jesus.
7) Diversity isn’t a method to grow the church, but a desire to welcome people and meet them where they are. The body of Christ will be led, I believe, by the children and those who minister with them, to line up in step the passion we find in John: “God so love the world…”
The boomers tried to champion diversity. The next generation will just live it. Children ministry workers, in all styles of churches, will need to be ready for this change.