To some of you reading this, it will sound odd that I have been asked before if it is difficult to be a children’s pastor while not being a parent (although the whole “not being a parent” thing should end in the next week or two…or three). Some of you think it’s a perfectly normal question. However, it is a bit like asking an apple farmer if it is difficult to farm apples while not being an orange farmer. That’s because the roles are so completely different. Sometimes, kids fail to grow in Christ because these roles are so blurry. Here are some of the differences:
Parents parent, pastors pastor
Say that one five times fast. This one sounds obvious, but this is where the lines blur for most people. Being a parent and being a pastor are two very different jobs, with different qualifications for each. In Ephesians 4:12, the designation for pastors and teachers is to “equip God’s people to do His work.” A parent’s job is to disciple, to train, and to lead their children in a Godly way. A pastor should continuously develop leadership and teachers to reach lost kids and disciple all kids that come in. However, the larger burden of discipleship falls to the parent. Just like someone may be responsible for feeding your child one meal, the burden of keeping your child healthy falls to the parent.
Pastors equip parents
Of the 168 hours in any given week, our kids’ leaders might get 3 hours with your kids. Mostly, we don’t even get that much. 56 of those hours (maybe) are spent sleeping. Around 40 are spent in school. Add in some after-school activities, and that leaves parents with about 65 waking hours with their kids every week. This leaves them with the lion’s share of ministry.
So, part of my job is to equip a parent to do that ministry at home. That’s why we give away so much free stuff to parents. Most parents want to share Christ with their kids. However, many don’t know how or don’t feel like they do it well. My job is to help equip those parents. Got questions? Want free stuff? Let me know.
Pastors support parents
There are plenty of times when a parent needs an outside objective view of what’s going on in their child’s life. On occasion, they will choose me to talk about their kids, help them through an area, or just hear me say that what is going on is completely normal.
Pastors also lend support to the ministry a parent is doing at home. A quick encouragement to the parent or child about their spiritual growth is often necessary.
Parents support pastors
Parents often teach their kids things unknowingly. Parents, you know what I am talking about here. They copy you. They learn your little subconscious habits. Your kids will need a spiritual leader other than you at some point. Sometimes, they won’t want to come to you. In “Parenting Beyond Your Capacity” (Joiner/Nieuwhof), the author makes a great point about allowing other people to help be a spiritual mentor to your kids. Church-hopping, bad-mouthing pastors, and other bad examples can subconsciously teach kids that pastors and churches can’t be trusted and are disposable. When they leave the home, this can have long-lasting effects regarding who and what to trust. Be careful what you say and do. As Ben Schnipper often says, “the way your kids see you treat church is the way they will treat God.”
Also, parents can support pastors by cementing learning done in kids’ ministry. That’s why we send things home with your kids every chance we get. We are hoping that you will take some time to go over that with them on your own time to really hammer that point home.