Explaining Compassion and Justice to Kids

Social justice is a “trendy phrase” in the church.  But equipping the church to be mindful of the ways God calls us to faithfully live out biblical justice is so much more than an idea or catchy phrase to say.  Here are just a few of the ways we explain what it means to be on ‘mission with God’missional, and how we explain compassion and justice.

How we engage “Mission” with kids

At Quest Kids we are all about loving God, loving other people, and loving God’s world. Each of us can be a missionary in our own community. We have been given the special mission of sharing God’s love and shining God’s light in our schools and neighborhoods.  As disciples of Jesus, Jesus followers, we are invited to live as Jesus lived, love as Jesus loved, and share the good news of Jesus love with the people around us.  Really it is about participating in the work that God is already doing in the world- in our neighborhoods, schools, families, communities and everywhere.

Idea #1: Kids following God’s mission

We have friends around the world who are also following God’s mission. They are loving Jesus and sharing God’s love in their own communities!  We can ask God how he wants us to love people in our communities well.

Idea #2: What is God’s mission?

“To participate in mission is to participate in the movement of God’s love toward people, since God is a fountain of sending love.” – David J. Bosch in Transforming Mission

Idea #3: What does it mean to have compassion?

Having compassion is caring about people who are hurting.  We are aware of other people’s stories and pain or needs.  We are empathetic toward theirs stories, needs, or pains.

Think of this as a day-to-day question: What helps right now?

 Idea #4: What would justice look like for this group of people I am supporting?

Justice is asking what systems are creating the thing that is hurting people.

Think of this as a long-term question: What would help ten years down the road not have this problem anymore?

Idea #5: Other ways Quest Kids are “Kids Following God’s Mission”

  • We give to others. Our weekly offering goes to Covenant World Relief children’s projects.
  • We make friends with other kids following God’s mission around the world (Global Mission Partners)
  • We serve others.
  • We help our homeless friends in the community by making and giving out blessing bags.

What ways does your family follow the mission of God?

Scripture that remind us to in God’s mission, and not be on mission by ourselves!

Quest Kids Vision and Purpose Statement

The 30,000 foot view of ministry to kids in a multi-ethnic church in Seattle, WA.

Our Kids and Family Ministry has evolved over the past 13 years.  Each year we reflect [briefly] on our vision and mission.  Because it is based off the larger church vision and mission, it doesn’t change too much!

We seek to Love God. Love Other People. Love God’s World. 

This was recently re-written to reflect our current ministry.

Purpose & Values

Quest Kids is a multi-ethnic, all abilities, and intergenerational ministry to and with children.  We seek to journey together to be transformed by God’s Spirit as we follow Jesus and grow in discipleship.  We are a diverse body; each created in God’s image and designed to worship God and be valued; to have a place and presence in the church community.

We believe that a child’s spiritual formation begins at home, and that it is the role of the church to assist parents/guardians in raising children to know and live for God. We are committed to each child’s spiritual growth throughout all aspects of our ministry. We provide a safe, nurturing environment with a structure of safety policies and volunteer accountability.

Through music, Scripture, prayer, fun and relationships, we hope to ignite a deep love for Christ in each child we serve.  In teaching the message of God’s love, salvation through Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, we help kids recognize their place in the big God Story.  Quest Kids seek to love God, love other people and pursue reconciliation in the world.

Getting Leaders Ready to Serve in KidMin

wood-top-keys-lockOne of the [many] keys to successfully keeping volunteer leaders involved in ministry with children and families is appropriate training.  First, we INSPIRE them to serve.  Then we EQUIP them to lead.  Lastly, we DEVELOP leaders (I am still learning how to do the last one well!)

Here is how we set our volunteer leaders up for success in Quest Kids:

ONE on ONE Meeting with Pastor or Director- 30-60 minutes

They are a person first, and we just want to be in relationship and know one another.  This takes a lot of time, but is well-worth the investment.

NEW LEADER ORIENTATION- 1 hour

Leader Orientation is a one hour meeting to review the Leader Handbook with all new volunteers.  This is a required training for all leaders, but if someone absolutely cannot make it to an evening or Sunday training, we send the handbook home with them and have them return a “Read Receipt”.

IN-CLASS TRAINING

It is a great idea to let a new leader shadow in a specific classroom or age group before they commit to it.  Also, pairing them with a seasoned ministry leader is a good idea if you can.  We have created a simple, one page leader guide for each of our classrooms that reminds leaders of their roles (i.e. diaper changing, prepping/serving snacks, where to access the volunteer schedule or Bible lessons, and Sunday morning schedule, etc.).  This ensures all leaders are getting the same information as they begin serving with a specific age group.

KEEPING KIDS SAFE WORKSHOP
- 3 hours

Keeping Kids Safe is our Child Abuse Prevention and Safety Training offered several times each year.  This is a required training for all KidMin leaders, done at their earliest convenience (within first year of volunteering).  KKS dates are announced several months in advance of the training.

ALL LEADER GATHERING- 90-120 minutes

Once every 12-18 months we hold an all leader gathering for visioning, prayer, and encouragement of our Quest Kids Team.  All KidMin leaders are strongly encouraged to attend this event.

Creating Family Ministry Safety Policies

 

We have created several policies for children and family ministry over the years.  Here is a checklist of important policies every church should have, be working on, or at least planning for.  We recommend consulting your churches lawyer, insurance agent or other safety professional already connected to your church community.

  • Volunteer Leader Handbook for Kids Ministry and/or Youth Ministry- both should have their own!
  • Volunteer Leader Handbook- version for the youth involved in Kids Ministry
  • Health & Wellness (Sick) Policy
  • Allergy Policy
  • Photo/Video Permission
  • Emergency Procedures- Church evacuation plan, earthquake, fire, etc.
  • Child Abuse Prevention Policy

We give every new volunteer a Leader Handbook, ask them to read it and sign the last page and return it to us.  Most of our volunteers are able to make it to our New Leader Orientation offered monthly, but at the very least they are all getting the handbook and learning important information about the ministry vision, volunteer expectations, policies, and reporting procedures.

If you would like to preview a sample of our church’s policies, please email childrensministry@seattlequest.org

 

 

Kids Ministry Leader Role Descriptions

It takes FOREVER to write succinct job descriptions for ministry positions in the church. Something that will quickly tell a person what the job is, what they will need to know or prepare and how much time in their week will it require. Here is what we’ve come up with for ministry. It is continually getting re-drafted!

 

Team Coordinator

Coordinate Lessons, Schedules or Volunteer/Classroom care for a specific ministry age group. Mid-week responsibilites might include volunteer scheduling, or lesson planning, or connecting with KidMin leaders. Once a month, supervise a Sunday service in Kids Ministry. Work with Pastor and Director to lead in a specific ministry area. Time commitment 2-3 hours/week and quarterly Team Coordinator gathering.

Hosting

Arrive 20 minutes early to help with Family Check-in and direct kids to classrooms and Large Group areas.  Answer questions and assist visitors and newcomers. Time commitment: 45 minutes on Sundays.

Worship

Volunteer weekly at one service. Lead kids in singing songs at beginning of lesson times. (Instruments optional, CDs’ in all classrooms) Meet quarterly with other worship leaders. Time commitment: 2 hours/week.

AV/Sound

Help run technology for preK-Grade School ministry weekly at one service. Time commitment: 2 hours/week.

Early Childhood Ministry Positions (ages 0-3)

Nursery Leaders

Volunteer weekly to monthly. Arrive 20 minutes before service begins (to set-up classroom). Play with and hold babies, feed and change diapers. Time commitment: 2 hours/week.

Lead Teacher

Volunteer weekly. Arrive 30 minutes before service begins. Plan and prepare lessons, oversee class schedule & flow, lead short Bible story, lesson, craft & snack times, direct other volunteers in assisting with activities. Time commitment: 2-3 hours/week.

Assistant

Volunteer weekly to monthly. Arrive 20 minutes before service. Play with kids, help lead teacher with activities. Time commitment: 2 hours/week.

 

PreK-Kindergarten Ministry Positions (ages 4-6)

Large Group Leader

Volunteer two-four times a month. Arrive 20 minutes before service begins for KidMin leader prayer time. Lead large group gathering time of prayer, scripture, and story telling of the Big God Story. Provide support to small group leaders during small group time. Time Commitment: 3-4 hours/week.

Small Group Leader

Volunteer weekly. Arrive 20 minutes before service begins for KidMin leader prayer time. Interact with kids before worship through conversation and small group Activities. Assist large group leader during worship and teaching time by helping kids stay engaged. Lead small group time of crafts, snacks and lesson discussion. Time commitment: 3 hours/week.

Parent Partner

Volunteer 1-2 times/month. Arrive 20 minutes before service begins for KidMin leader prayer time. Assist kids and leaders with needs and activities such as bathroom breaks, snack prep, craft assisting. Time commitment: 2 hours/week.

Grade School Ministry Positions (1st-5th grade)

Large Group Leader

Volunteer two-four times a month. Arrive 20 minutes before service begins for KidMin leader prayer time. Lead large group gathering time of prayer, scripture, and story telling of the Big God Story. Help kids connect bible truths to their everyday life. Provide support to small group leaders during small group time. Time Commitment: 3-4 hours/week.

Small Group Leader

Volunteer weekly. Arrive 20 minutes before service begins for KidMin leader prayer time. Interact with kids before worship through games, conversation and Small Group Activities. Assist large group leader during worship and teaching time by helping kids stay engaged. Lead small group discussion & activities after Big God Story. Time commitment: 3 hours/week.

Parent Partner

Volunteer 1-2 times/month. Arrive 20 minutes before service begins for KidMin leader prayer time. Assist kids and leaders with needs and activities such as bathroom breaks, snack prep, craft assisting. Time commitment: 2 hours/week.

 

Other Ways to Volunteer 

Office Volunteer

Provide administrative support to the daily workings of CFM through curriculum organizing and prepping, working on volunteer schedules, event planning and support for volunteer recruiting and training. Fun projects include birthday cards, making flyers and FB advertising, publishing blog posts, creating video and picture slideshows, and keeping bulletin boards current. 5-10 hrs/week

Special Events

Help with planning and prep for special events as needed. Not usually more than a couple hours a week in any given season, and 4-6 hours on a special event day.

Childcare Coordinating

Help coordinate childcare for moms groups and church-wide meetings/events.

Why Reconciliation and Family Ministry?

Two things in ministry have deeply impacted my life and calling as a pastor to kids and families.  I feel a deep sense of personal conviction to Reconciliation and Family Ministry.

Art Easter 5AMy journey of reconciliation began in my first year in college.  I was 17, excited to leave home and discover what God had planned for my life.  I took courses my freshman year that turned my life upside down and shifted my whole perspective on culture, faith and ministry. I was suddenly face to face with Jesus, in the midst of personal pain and trial, feeling called to global and urban cross-cultural ministry.  Through God’s nudging, my tripping, and the prodding of people who loved me, I developed a new lens by which to view my faith in light of God’s multi-cultural kingdom.  I took steps forward and began a new season of listening and learning and responding.  I developed an awareness of privilege and power and discovered in new ways Jesus’ love of the poor and marginalized in our world.  It was a time to pay attention to the world around me and be attuned to God’s work- reconciling, redeeming and transforming people.  I noticed this in friendships, through listening to other people’s stories; in what I read, in the conversations I had, in the people and places I felt called to serve.

As I sought to live into this new perspective I found my self developing new relationships with people who were different than me; involved in homeless ministry; getting to know my city in new ways, exploring churches and discovering the rich cultural diversity of Seattle; leading a campus worship ministry; serving in inner city Philadelphia, traveling to the Yucatan to learn and serve alongside the people of Merida, Mexico.  In this season I met my husband and got to know his bi-cultural Lebanese and Dutch family.  Along the way I learned a lot about myself, my family and heritage, and my own identity as a white female who was called to multi-ethnic children’s ministry.  What I began learning about myself and others so many years ago, I am still learning.

Faith in my youth years was about personal devotion time, faithfully attending church, participating in worship and serving my church and community.  It was about praying and reading the Bible and memorizing scripture and telling others about Jesus.  All good things.  Overtime though I have seen that all these things- apart from understanding God’s work of reconciliation in my life and our call, as believers, to the ministry of reconciliation- had meant my faith was about me.  It was individual and in many ways self-gratifying.  If I do the right things, say the right things, pray the right prayers, I’ll be good with God.  But if I am truly following Jesus, then I will be not only spending quiet time with God in the early hours of the morning, and participating in the life of the Church every week, but I will be seeking out ways to love those our society rejects, to clothe the poor and feed the hungry, to give shelter to the homeless and seek the welfare of our city.  I will be speaking out against the injustices of our culture- these are things that Jesus did and I want to follow his footsteps.  This is radical kingdom faith that is not only about my personal relationship with Jesus, but my faithfulness and obedience to a life of radical kingdom living.

Reconciliation is a transforming journey of confession and forgiveness with God and between people that restores broken relationships, social structures and systems.

This is the life of devotion I have been invited in to.  And so I began asking new questions. What does it mean to trust God when there is no hope? What does faith look like in the face of cancer?  How can I walk along side brothers and sisters of color who face micro-agression, racism, and prejudice daily? What does it mean to truly listen to someone and love them as Jesus would? How do I offer a Jesus-size measure of compassion, mercy and justice in the world? How can I praise God joyfully and still lament with others when confronted with pain, loss, violence, abuse, issues social injustice, racism, and human trafficking?  What does it mean to have a teachable spirit? What bold, brave and courageous steps is God calling me to, as I seek to be faithful to God’s mission in the world- to see all of creation redeemed, restored and made new?  What am I to stand up for, who am I to stand in solidarity with?  How can I be a better listener?  Whose story am I invited into- to hold with dignity, value and worth?  These questions have formed me, and continue to be a part of my journey of transformation.

This transformational faith is simply about reconciliation with God and reconciliation with others. God invites us into a personal relationship with Him, be we are also invited into the Covenant community of God.  This is holy ground. Mercy, compassion and justice are foundational in this place.  So how do I live it, teach it, preach it?  I am reconciled, and I am called to be a reconciler in the world.  This is both terrifying, humbling and awe-some.

Family Ministry is my jam. I love working with kids.  But I do not do kids ministry in a silo.  Not only do kids need a village of people surrounding them, the village needs our kids.  We know that parents are the primary influence on a child’s faith, and that faith that sticks in a child’s life is faith developed in community.  I dream of the day that children are seen as full participants in the church.  As I have learned over the years, my job is to teach kids, but more than that I believe we are called to create space for kids to learn about and explore their faith.  They practice worship expressions and they “do/live/experience” worship, they ask questions, they provide thoughtful answers to questions.  They play, they laugh, they cry, they sing and pray.  They struggle.  They have hope.  Family ministry is about laying a firm foundation and allowing kids to experience their faith in the safety of the church community, and go out into the world to practice it and live it out.

I also am called to the multi-ethnic or multicultural church.  I see the multi-ethnic church as  joyful expression of God’s love for the world and the Church.  We more fully reflect God’s kingdom when we worship God together- all ages, all ethnicities, all abilities.  This is the beauty and gift of the family of God.  There are many barriers in the US to multiethnic ministry, but Jesus came to break down those barriers.  Jesus is our role model in this.  Jesus did not only heal the most faithful, Jesus did not only teach the teachable, Jesus did not only minister to the religious people.  Jesus loved those whom no one else wanted to love.  Jesus invited the “sinners” to a life transformed.  Jesus praised the sacrifices of those who had little.  Jesus reached out to the poor and called them faithful.  Jesus honored the faith of those who genuinely desired to believe, even when they struggled to believe.  Jesus broke down cultural, social, ethnic, gender and ability barriers.  Jesus invites us to follow Him.

If we are to follow Jesus, then reconciliation must be woven into the fabric of children, youth and family ministry.  What it means to be reconciled to God and the people must be taught, practiced and lived out in our homes and churches. Intentional conversations, awareness of our cultural identity and faith identity, how we treat other people, how we grow and learn from those who are different than us, how we listen and give dignity to people’s lives and stories, and the ways we live out the gospel; all of these are transformational and faith shaping.  I am learning how to be a practitioner of these things.

My hope and prayer is to see children and families wholly reconciled to God and other people, participating in the whole mission of the church; as a community sent by God.

5 Websites For Great Kids Ministry Resources

Here are my go to websites for resources these days, in no particular order.

  1. Key Ministry– an amazing resource for churches and families who want to be well equipped to serve every child- seriously, go check it out today.
  2. Kidzana Ministries– helping churches pay attention to the global need for outreach to children.
  3. Childrens Ministry Magazine (online)- they’ve been around forever…
  4. Ministry to Children, Tony Kummer- my favorites are the coloring sheets, lesson ideas and vbs reviews
  5. Pinterest– for craft ideas and anything (WARNING: It can be overwhelming to navigate, ask a friend for help if you find yourself freaking out)

Bonus: Check our your denomination’s website for resources.  The Evangelical Covenant Church has tons of great stuff.

Things to watch out for:

  1. Is the website just trying to make you buy more stuff?
  2. What’s the message behind the resources?  Is it about loving, serving and equipping kids, parents and volunteers to live as faithful followers of Jesus? Or is it about “building a program”, enticing people to come to “your church”, growing “your ministry”, or “convincing people they need Jesus”?  These things are not primary.  I am convinced that better programs, church attendance growth, and increased numbers of people in your community coming to faith in Christ should be an natural outflow from faithful, genuine and authentic ministry for your context; that meets your community’s needs and invites them into a life of discipleship to Jesus. Period.  People will want to be a part of that if the Holy Spirit is working.
  3. Do these resources take into consideration our need to be a church community that reflects the diversity of God’s Kingdom- ethnically, culturally, socioeconomically, and in gender, ability and age?