Celebration is an important part of connecting kids and leaders to your ministry, but many leaders neglect celebration and in doing so miss valuable opportunities to make meaningful connections with children, families, and co-laborers. Kids ministry leaders are busy people, I totally get it. Our plates are full and our calendars overrunneth. As good leaders, many of us have taught ourselves to get out in front of things. We need to look beyond the present moment to what’s coming next. We are driven to prepare for next week, next quarter, next spring, or next year. While it is great to plan and prepare for tomorrow, we also need to pause for moments of celebration along the way. As Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” By celebrating salvation, milestones, life moments, personal accomplishments, and ministry results we can connect kids (and our volunteers) to the church, to one another, and to the Lord.
One of the most exciting and important things that we should celebrate is a decision for a child to give his life to Christ. Luke 15:10 tells us that there is celebration in heaven over each sinner who repents. There should likewise be joy and celebration in your kids wing when a child trusts in the Lord Jesus for salvation. How you celebrate appropriately is up to you, but whether you recognize the child in front of the group or privately with mom and dad, make sure you stop everything else and take time to acknowledge the importance of this most precious moment of decision. You may choose to give a child a Bible of their own or a certificate celebrating their decision. You might write them a personal note of congratulations. This is an excellent time to gift the child with a discipleship book like I am a Christian Now to help get them started on the right foot as they begin a personal daily walk with Jesus. If you celebrate nothing else, celebrate decisions to follow Jesus!
Children pass many mile markers on their way from preschool to high school; each one gives us another reason to celebrate their growth and progress in the faith. Whether they are transitioning from Kindergarten or into middle school, graduations and promotions are natural milestones to celebrate with your children. These are great chances to acknowledge groups of kids at once, and to recognize them in front of the entire kids ministry or the whole church. Other milestones to commemorate might include baptisms, accomplishments around memorization of Scripture or in Bible drills and skills, and/or decisions to give or participate in missions. Once you start looking for them you will find multiple milestones to celebrate what God is doing in your kids’ lives.
Celebrate Life Moments and Accomplishments
There are few days in a kid’s life bigger than their birthday, so make sure to acknowledge them in your ministry. Sing to birthday kids. Consider having them wear a special birthday hat, or let them choose a trinket out of a treasure box. Mail out monthly birthday cards from your children’s ministry. Celebrating kids’ birthdays is a fantastic opportunity to make them feel important and to let them know that they are loved. Don’t stop with birthdays. Look for any opportunity to rejoice with a child over an accomplishment. Celebrate big brothers and sisters at the birth or adoption of a new sibling. Recognize kids who are in school plays, on winning sports teams, raise prize animals for the fair, dance on competitive hip-hop teams, or bake killer cupcakes. As kids excel at any activity, make sure your ministry takes note and makes a joyful noise. As you celebrate successes, point kids back to our great God who gives each of us our talent and ability, and enables us to do great things for His glory.
Celebrate Ministry Goals
Ministry goals let you and your team see progress as it is made. Make sure to set and share goals for events that you hold, for programs that you facilitate, and for discipling children effectively. As you reach them, pause to share God stories with your team. Remember to thank workers for their help. Treat them to donuts or pizza, or make them plaques to recognize their service. Look for ways to acknowledge those who go the extra mile for your kids ministry. People who know that their work makes a difference, and who know that they are appreciated will be more inclined to continue to serve with deeper and deeper commitment.
Celebrating the kids you serve and the people you serve with will do something valuable for you, too. It will bring you joy and help you maintain the proper perspective to get you through difficult times. The work of ministry is about nurturing human souls and connecting them to the God of the universe through the Lord Jesus Christ. If we aren’t careful, we can be so busy being fast-moving movers and shakers that we can miss the moments that let us enjoy the fruit of our labor and give thanks to God for the work He is doing in our churches. May your ministry be known as one that includes an expectation of celebration.
Chuck Peters is Director of Operations for LifeWay Kids. A graduate of Columbia Bible College, Chuck has served vocationally & voluntarily in Student and Children’s Ministry for many years.