On your mark. Get set. Go. Summer! Summer means so many things to many people. Kids love summer because it offers a change of pace. Parents sometimes struggle with summer due to childcare responsibilities. Grandparents love summer because it offers an opportunity to spend quality time with their grandchildren. And children’s ministers should really love summer! After surviving this last year, summer 2021 should be one to celebrate and cherish.
Yes, summer is a wonderful time for ministers of children yet ministry to children and families during these months can be overwhelming and demanding. Check out these tips and words of wisdom from fellow leaders to assist you.
Tips from Mark Burrows
Mark Burrows, children’s minister at First UMC in Fort Worth, TX shared some of his insights with us.
“So this past 15 months has made it abundantly clear that I have control over very little.
It’s an incredibly humbling experience.
And I’ve said the phrase “I don’t know” more times in the past 15 months than in all my other years of ministry combined.
“When do you think we’ll go back to in-person?” I don’t know.
“When do you think we can be mask optional?” I don’t know.
“When do you think we’ll be able to have the children’s choir sing in worship again?” I don’t know.
“What are you going to talk about in the children’s message on Sunday?” I don’t know.
So here’s what I did this past Friday:
- I went into all the Sunday school rooms.
- I sharpened all the pencils.
- I sharpened and sorted all the colored pencils.
- I checked each marker to make sure it hadn’t dried out.
- I did the same with the glue sticks.
It took all morning and – It. Felt. GREAT!
It was something physical rather than virtual.
It gave me a way to see concrete results of my efforts.
It was a chance show hospitality by preparing the way for all my young friends, whenever I get to see them next.
Tips from Caitlin Bookwalter
"The best tip I can give to children's ministers or directors is take care of yourself. Summer is a very busy time in children's ministry, and you can forget that your health is still important. Make sure you stay hydrated being outside with the children at VBS and camps can suck the water right out of you. Eat well balanced meals. Children will notice of you are 'hangry'- hungry and angry. Take a nap when you can and get some sleep at night. It is perfectly okay to go to bed with your children at 7:30 one night if needed. You will need all the sleep and strength you can for the summer and programming events. You need to be the best you can be so that you can help the children discover hope and deepen their faith this summer," advises Caitlin Bookwalter, Director of Family Ministries with First UMC in Ormond Beach, FL.
Tips from Susie Faas
Susie Faas shared these words of wisdom with us. Susie is Minister with Children and Families at Heritage Presbyterian Church in Mason, OH.
“Don’t let stress or worry get the best of you. Remember to invite God to be a part of each day, and each ministry event, AT THE START, don’t wait until you are in a panic for His help.”
“Have a prepared list of “tasks for volunteers” ready to go, for those times when someone asks you, “How may I help you?”
Tips from Rebecca Dyck
“Be persistent and maintain perspective. We are tired and our creativity is tapped, and the kids don't respond, or they don't attend. While that's all true, there's a temptation to create a false "poor me" narrative. Remember that the parents are our main recipients of our communication and remember to give ourselves grace and rest. Then flip the story around: I have a job I love and connection-building (not glitz, not glamor, not a giant outdoor water party...) is the whole point. Parents want to know that they are thought of and prayed for. Send a personal email or make a phone call and tell them that. Persist in the work, and look up and out and around you for perspective,” suggests Rebecca Dyck, Director of Children and Family Ministries, University UMC in Chapel Hill NC.
Tips from Lauren Bedevian
Lauren Bedevian, Children’s Ministry Director with Memorial UMC in Houston, TX shares these tips for summer survival.
“A tip that I live by not only during the summertime, but year round.
- Make connections!
There are thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people who work in children’s ministry across the world. You do not have to do ministry alone. If there is something you are struggling with, reach out to people! There are many social media groups you can join to make connections. Things as small as a snack idea to concepts as large as ministering to a student with special needs at your vbs. If we use our connections to our advantage, our communities can really thrive.
I am finding myself, especially right now in the midst of summer camps and VBS, reaching out to other churches. I want to see how other leaders and churches do ministry. I want to offer my advice to other churches that may need support. Don’t think you have to do ministry alone. Don’t think that you are the only one dealing with a problem. Chances are, there is someone not so far away who could benefit from the support just as much as you could.”
Tips from Nick Ransom
Nick Ransom, Director of Elementary Education with Church of the Resurrection in Leawood KS shares these survival tips.
“In the midst of VBS, camps, and other fun summer events take some time to think strategically about the upcoming school year. I find this works best with some ice cream nearby.”
Enjoy your 2021 summer. Remember these words of wisdom from fellow ministers. Celebrate and cherish each day as you minister to the children and families in your care.