This is a guest post from Jacquii Moyo. She has spent the last 5 months in America apart of our Church's children's ministry team. She was born in Zimbabwe and spent a large part of her life in England! She has a number of experiences doing children's ministry in Pentecostal African churches in western contexts.
I remember watching the children sitting with their parents in the sanctuary.
These children were fidgeting, humming to themselves, playing with a mobile, squabbling over toys and generally trying to get their parents’ attention by tugging at their clothes. One or two would then proceed to speak loudly to their parents, and the parent would instantaneously shush them. One squeak the ushers would give the parent that keep-your-child-quiet-or-we-take-it-outside look.
In fact it was not uncommon to see a parent tugging or frogmarching a screaming child out of the sanctuary, marshalled by an usher’s invisible prod.
As a 13 year old I would quietly chuckle from my seat.
It had not occurred to me to actually try and do something about it. It had not yet occurred to me to stop laughing at that little boy who was annoying his little sister so she wouldn’t make a fuss and to take them to get some air outside. It had not occurred to me that I could do something that could significantly help the children.
Then I started thinking. “These children are so bored”, ”Someone should come up with a better plan for them”, “Our meetings are designed for adults, not kids”. Something needed to change. I began to think what I could do to help build a Kids Ministry; one that was innovative, creative and age appropriate.
So I started to research about kids ministries. I visited churches that had diverse cultures to see how they were doing it.
Now I am not saying that all the ‘African’ churches are this way, I can only speak for the ones I observed. However these diverse churches I visited were doing well in the kids department because they had people who were passionate about children. I realised that I wanted that for our ‘African’ churches too.
Now that I had seen the pattern, I was more confident that I could do something to stop us from becoming ‘professional children shushers’ and ‘parent frog marchers’.
One of the factors that made children’s church daunting in ‘African’ churches is that the children would have to be engaged for at least an hour and a half. The services run longer. An endurance race sometimes. Meaning that Kids Ministry is seen as a Child Care Ministry. Even Child Temporary Detention ministry.
However I believe with creativity and the right resources, Kids Ministry could flourish. That hour and a half could easily be used to:
- Praise and worship to one of the many children’s church songs available on YouTube
- Games that encourage team work and Bible challenges.
- Big groups and small groups lessons
- Reflection in a calm environment
- Praying together at the end of the service to deepen the children’s faith as they come to realise that prayer is and can be part of everyday life.
Kids Ministry to me is not about sending the children into different room so that they do not disturb the adults, it is about encouraging the children into a deeper relationship with God in a creative and age appropriate ways.
In the next story I will narrate how my first attempt to re-invigorate the Kids Ministry went.