Not to scare you but your church might be close to disaster! And here is how it starts:
Someone says, “Bob hasn’t been in church very much;” or, “Sally has not been real involved lately;” or, “Joe seems really detached over the last few months.”
Then a deacon pipes up, “How about the kids’ ministry!”
That’s right, many well-meaning church members think that the spiritually distant, the theologically misfit, and the untrustworthy Bible thumbers should all serve in the your church’s kids’ ministry. You just stick Bob, Sally, or Joe in that classroom and boom! There goes the church!
Now, at some level, I get it. Changing diapers is a lot less influential than leading the worship team. When Bob the nursery worker gets peed on a by a screaming baby, he will not attract all that much attention. The baby and Bob maybe briefly traumatized, but church will be ok.
However, Bob the music leader who talks about how God is sometimes the Father and sometimes the Holy Spirit between songs just introduced the church to heresy. From the stage, Bob can all but destroy his local church. I get the power differential.
I understand that we don’t want unproven people leading up front. And, I understand that we need places for men and women to develop their spiritual gifts. I am all for people testing the gifts in their children’s ministry (with lots of supervision of course). I love seeing men and women grow in their teaching and organizational skills. I always want to encourage such growth. I want our kids’ ministry to be a part of our church’s greater discipleship strategy.
But at the same time, I recognize that children are not flowers, chairs, or bulletins. Children are far more valuable and precious than the day-to-day operational tasks of the church. (Matt 19:14; Psalm 127). They are also some of the most vulnerable and susceptible people in our congregation. Children often cannot voice their concerns fully. They struggle to tell us exactly why something sounds wrong. In addition, children will often be too embarrassed to discuss why their teacher made them uncomfortable. As the people of God, we are charged with protecting our children and keeping them safe. We are called to be a voice for the voiceless (Jer. 7:5-7).
Sticking unproven and backsliding Christians in our nursery goes against the above scriptural mandates. After all, those backsliders may not even by Christians. And if they are unredeemed sinners, they will be prone to neglecting, misleading, and even abusing our children. If we invite struggling Christians to work with our children, we are inviting disaster into our very midst.
While we should want people to prove their calling within the walls of our children’s ministries, we should never want people to prove their character by working with our children. The risk of failure is too great and our children our too important!
Thankfully, God has given the modern church tasks such as setting up chairs, directing traffic, and making coffee expressly for this reason. In my humble opinion, no one needs prove his or her faith via their church’s children’s ministry.