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Insight from a Children's Pastor & Awana Commander

No Visitors Allowed

I moved into a brand new development a few years ago. The main road in front of our townhouses was just about 3 lanes wide and the parking pad in front accommodated two cars. Since we had thre vehicles, I inquired if there would be parking on both sides of the street and at the time, the answer was yes.

Within the next year or so, parking was limited to one side so larger vehicles could navigate the road. This was still okay, but began to limit parking. This year, we got notice that once posted, there would be no parking at all along the street (except near where the park is to placed). Again, though limiting, we weren’t too concerned because we could fit four vehicles in front of our house, but two of them would be straddling the sidewalk (blocking the sidewalk). Well this week, one of our vehicles was ticketed for blocking the sidewalk. Consequently we only have room to park two of our three vehicles and there is now no room for a guest to park.

If you notice, this progression was slow and over the course of just a few years. That got me wondering if we do this in our ministries.

At first, parking was abundant and there was room for visitors to park – but as time went on, parking is now limited and there is no room for visitors to park.

When we start ministries, we strive to reach out and encourage children to bring friends but as time goes on, do we continue to encourage that and welcome guests, or do we do things to slowly discourage it?

Ways we tell visitors that they are not welcome:

  • Do not welcome them
  • Do not call them by name
  • Do not follow up with a postcard or call
  • Do not work with them during handbook (small group) time
  • Do not get to know them
  • Do not encourage children to bring friends (easily offer options for the bring a friend sections in Awana)
  • Expect all children to have “perfect church kid” behavior

And there are others, but this gives you an idea.

Maintain an inviting place for visitors in your ministry. It can be easy to fall into a “comfort zone” with the kids we have and the behavior we expect. Be open to those who need to know Jesus, give them a place to “park” in your ministry.

The Author

2 Comments

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  1. So true! As I visualize our Awana kids, I see a good 75% of them who came initially as guests of someone else. A good portion of them passed the entry level on the first night they came. If we didn’t welcome visitors, our program would be pitiful, because we only have about 10 kids in our pre-k – 5 Sunday School classes. We have about 30 in that age level in Awana.

  2. I always try to be very welcoming to any visitors of my children’s ministry. However, I think it’s sometimes too easy to let ourselves slip into old habits that may discourage visitors. For me, that includes a few things you listed—particularly not following up with visitors and expecting all kids to have that perfect behavior. These are things I’m definitely going to work on!

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