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Insight from a Children's Pastor & Awana Commander

The Dark Side of Children’s Ministry

This past week, the resignation of the executive director of a well known children’s ministry was accepted and made public. While it was a surprise to many, I knew it was coming. I found myself in a unique situation because I know, and have recently spoken to, all of the individuals mentioned in the announcement. I can call most of them friends (one I knew but not well and had only spoken to them on the phone and text).

I was surprised when I found out the reason for the announcement, and also discouraged by some of the response. In some ways, it shows the dark side of children’s ministry. The closer you get to the “inner circles” of ministries, and the more connected you are to the overall children’s ministry community, the more you see potential inconsistencies and the business side that can get ugly. Ministries need to focus on the financial aspect or they can no longer provide resources and help others reach kids for Christ. I am not saying that this is the cause of the rift we saw in children’s ministry last week, but ministries today fight for market share. Some ministry leaders have “thin skin” and see anything that could possibly relate to them or their ministry as an attack, and they have defended themselves publicly instead of addressing it first in private. I have seen other well-known ministry leaders state publicly at two different conferences that the conference they were at was the only one who accepted them when others had rejected them. I was surprised…… was I witnessing the “dark side” of ministry?

While we can look at others in shame and say how could they do that, I want to encourage everyone reading this to look in a mirror.

We take these ministry leaders who have written books, led conferences, sold curriculum, served in large churches, etc and we place them on pedestals. We forget that they are included among those referenced in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. We forget that they, like us, have a sin nature that we must submit fully to God. I know there are times I fail. When I fail, I am fortunate that it usually is not promulgated on social media.

It is difficult to see those well known, or anyone, in children’s ministry fail. In today’s world of social media, that failure is broadcast quickly and to a much larger audience. Unlike the failures of mighty men of God recorded in the Old Testament, the results of our failures reach more people and a greater cry for removal from office is heard. Imagine if their was social media when King David impregnated Bathsheba and then had her husband Uriah killed. If there was social media, then I can only imagine the hashtags, the tweets, the memes, and Facebook discussions calling for his removal from office.

While reconciliation and unity is sought in this situation revealed last week, there are still ill feelings and not all is worked out.

Thursday, a friend of mine who is a pastor posted the following comment on Facebook….

When the rhetoric of anyone commanded to be a peacemaker is always marked by an “us/them” mentality and a reflexive war footing, it is legitimate to ask if they are really following Jesus.

This statement was made before the resignation announcement was made. I can see where people will entrench on one side or the other instead of seeking peace, forgiveness, repentance, and unity.

May each of us look at our lives in light of what was revealed last week.

  • Are we causing others to stumble because of our actions?
  • Are we speaking in a way to harm another?
  • How can we prevent the “triggers” in our lives to keep us from giving in to sin?

The answer to the last one is easy, at least to say. We stay in the Word of God, we keep in prayer, we seek His wisdom. I know in my life, when I fail to focus on God, it opens a door to sin.

There is a dark side to ministry because we live in a dark world. May we always seek the light.

I urge you to pray for all involved, and for yourself, that God would work in all of our hearts, drawing us closer to Him, and away from “the dark side”.

 

Updated: December 10, 2017 — 7:34 pm

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2 Comments

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  1. Its unfortunate that children’s ministry has become a profitable business and many feel to be competitive in this field.
    There are too many kids dying and going to hell and not enough people reaching them for any of us to be in any kind of compilation with each other!
    I have been accused of unethically trying to duplicate other popular children’s ministries in the past because I was intruding on what they believed was their corner of the market. That is why I stay on the outskirts of the KidMin realm and just do what God has called me to do. God fills up my schedule so I just stay away from a lot of this mess.

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