Some of the most unchurched people I know are children’s pastors.

I know, that’s a ridiculous statement, but there’s a truth to it. Kidmin staff are often so busy leading, putting out fires and sometimes single-handedly making ministry happen that even the thought of attending the adult service is a luxury. I know many who attend once a year or less – and I’m not talking about those who lead at churches where they only have once service. Yes, there are countless reasons why ministry staff don’t make it to the main service and there will always be more reasons than it’s worth writing down. However, if we’re honest – we know that this habit of not attending church services for ourselves is an unhealthy practice. It’s unhealthy for you and it’s unhealthy for your church.

I already know the initial arguments against what I’m saying. Yes, you can watch the service later online, listen to the podcast or pick up a tape from the tape ministry (that’s not a thing anymore, is it?). Yes, I know that you are completely capable of feeding yourself and don’t depend on attending a service for spiritual nourishment. Those are great reasons for not attending a service, but they are flawed if you’re leaning on them as reasons for why you aren’t attending.

Here are five reason why Children’s Ministry staff need to go to church

  1. Attending the service keeps you connected to the mission and vision of your church in a tangible and practical way. Yes, you stay connected in these ways through staff meetings, your experience on staff and your relationship with your pastor – but there’s something communicated from the stage from the leader of your church that’s different from a staff meeting or a coffee. The senior leader communicates his heart and passion for the mission from the stage differently than a staff meeting and it’s important that we take our cues from this experience. You’ll interact with parents and volunteers on Sunday or the next few days and there’s something powerful about complimenting or reinforcing what was communicated from the stage from you and your staff. One of the worst things we can say to a volunteer or parent when they ask something about the service is, “Oh, I haven’t heard the message yet.” It’s not necessarily negative, but it does leave room for question. I’d rather be able to engage in a conversation with them or at the very least say, “I’m going to the service next hour, let’s continue this conversation after I’ve been.”
  2. You can’t lead your volunteer where you aren’t going. We have a three very clear expectations for all volunteers that we communicate in their training and do what we can to hold them accountable on a regular basis. One of these expectations is that they attend the service every week. We understand that sometimes it doesn’t happen, but that shouldn’t be the norm. We even tell volunteers that if their life changes in such a way that they can’t commit to attending and serving, we’d rather them take a break from serving and come back when their schedule allows it. I’ve seen too many incredible volunteers sacrifice attending the service and when they end up burning out, they stop attending our church because the only thing they were committed to was a group of kids. You’ll never be able to lead with this expectation if you’re not attending yourself.
  3. You need to meet people outside of your sphere of influence.  Because you serve in kidmin, your personal interactions consist of parents and volunteers. However, there’s a sea of people who are neither that aren’t making it to your area of the church. I have some of the best conversations with both parents and people who are interested in serving outside of the children’s building at my church. This is why I take every opportunity I can get to be on stage in the main service as well. They area I lead needs the exposure, so I like doing the welcome, announcements, prayer and opportunities to talk about kids and students. After these opportunities, I have more people come find me to ask questions. Oh, this all assumes something very important. That means I’m not always rushing into the main service after worship is started and rushing out when the pastor is saying the final prayer. This means I try to wander the hallways, lobby and courtyard just to connect.
  4. It’s one of the best ways to honor your pastor.  Want to know what I hate? When my pastor asks me on  Monday what I thought about the service and I have to tell him, “I don’t know, I wasn’t there.” Yes, he hired you to lead a ministry and he’d rather have that area healthy than falling apart than you skipping out so you can sit in the service. However, your senior pastor needs both your support and input and one of the best ways you can give that is by being in the service on a weekly basis. I’ve had the opportunity to teach from the main stage a handful of times and I’ll make a confession. It’s probably carnal, but I was disappointed by the number of staff who didn’t hear the message. I had spent a lot of time crafting a very specific message that I felt parents and the rest of the church needed to hear and how powerful would it have been if all the staff could re-communicate what I had said to their leaders (wishful thinking, I know). It was disappointing that they weren’t all there. It felt like a missed opportunity. I’m pretty sure your senior pastor feels the same way when you’re not there.
  5. You need it more than you think you do. Stop making excuses. There are a dozen or more ways that you can grow as a Christ-follow and leader, but it will do you more good than you know to stop for a hour and just worship like you don’t have any responsibilities and listen to a message that has been crafted to inspire, challenge and encourage you. Just take a little time to receive.

Stay tuned for some ideas of how you can make attending the adult service a reality.