In less than two months, I’ll be a father. Finally. For over ten years of ministry I’ve often gotten strange looks from parents or fellow leaders as a result of some plans or programs. Occasionally they would actually say, “one day, whenÃ‚Â you’re a parent, you’ll do these things differently.I know my life is about to change. I know everything is about to be different. But I’m really anxious to see if I’m really going to do some of these things differently. I’m not rebellious by any means. If anything, I’ve always been more of a people-pleaser. But sometimes when I get these strange looks and comments about not understanding, it drives me to want to really mix things up.
Risk is what prompted the writing of this post. Sometimes I do things in children’s ministry that isn’t expected… sometimes I wish I took more. The first time I ever held a lock-in, I didn’t make the kids lay down until 4:00 AM. I took the kids to a bowling ally and I had kindergartners glow-bowling at 12:30 AM. I think there’s nothing funnier than having a 6 year-old look at you with bright eyes and exclaim, “I’ve never been up this late before!” No one ever told me that I had to have the kids down by 11:00 PM. Heck, that’s when I usually start the scavenger hunt. I don’t even bring out the cokes and sugar until after midnight. Even after several years, some parents would look at me with horror that I wouldÃ‚Â invite kindergartners to a lock-in. Three years ago I had over 350 kids at one lock-in, over 50 of them were kindergartners… and they loved it… only one threw up.
Here I am just four years later. Different church, same strange looks. This year there’s a twist though. Our church has Celebrate Recovery on Friday nights. Great ministry, I just don’t want to mix 7 years olds with recovery… know what I mean? So, I’ve rented out a recreation center. Gyms, party rooms and one amazing pool. Lazy river, huge slide and all the works. We can’t get in until 9:00 PM, so the younger kids start swimming at 10:00 PM, the oder ones at midnight. Then because we have to be out of the recreation center by 6:00 AM, I’m transporting the kids back to the church via school buses. I don’t think I’ve ever had this much excitement from the kids for a lock-in, but I’ve gotten more looks than ever.
Is this too big of a risk? I know, swimming after 10:00 and even midnight is really late. Yeah, I know that there are drunks on the road after midnight. Sure, there is a risk, but is it that much more risky than swimming in the lake water front, doing the huge zip-line or climbing the massive rock wall at camp? It seems that the greater the fun, the greater the risk, I just feel that you have to manage that risk… get the most fun without doing something stupid. We’re not going to do Chinese Fire-Drills at the red-lights… although that would be huge fun(trust me, I just got nervous chills just thinking about that)! I figured this event is a calculated risk. Nothing is more valuable to me than the safety of these kids… I feel the weight of that responsibilities. But we’re certainly not going to sit in a padded room all night or watch 12 hours of Veggie Tales.
I know there are other areas I may need to risk more. I’ve had a very successful run at Venture Quest (what we call our Vacation Bible School). For 4 years at my previous church, we saw 40% growth every year (over 600 kids my last year). The last two years at my current church I’ve seen 100% growth (up to 600 kids again). Earlier this year one of the children’s pastors at another campus challenged the way I did Venture Quest. I got really defensive. I said, “I’ve got a very successful plan and procedure for this event, trust me, I know what I’m doing.” Hmmmmm. I regret my words. Although you can’t argue with my experience, did I just become the parent with the strange look? Lord, I hope not. Maybe it’s time to re-invent Venture Quest… I still have two months.
Well, only 4 more days until the Ultimate Lock-In. I’ll let you know if the risk was worth it. Apparently the parents of 200 kids think it is. We’ll see….
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Trust me, I have worked with kids for a long time and I now have a 2 year old boy. There is nothing like it. It is the best. I think the only thing that changed for me was my deepened conviction that children’s ministry is the most important ministry in the church. When you have kids you go from thinking it to believing it.
That’s awesome! I figured it would be something like that. The only thing I hate about my job is that I only get 1 to 2 hours a week with my kids… just not enough. With my own kids, heck I get to be children’s pastor as much as I want!