Heartprints

Children’s Ministry, A Labor Camp for Church Workers?

Labor camps are led by merciless, uncompassionate, ill-directed lunatics whipping the backs of men, women and children to do work. The whippers are joyless traditionalists making known their rules and work through abuse. The abused laborers understand the camp as an endless, living haven of mortal death, disease and depression. Many times church workers subtly believe children’s ministry is like a labor camp. If asked to join the children’s ministry camp they fear being whipped, yelled at and beginning a slow, miserable, inescapable, Christian ministry death. Children’s ministry is not a labor camp for church workers!


Labor camps are led by merciless, uncompassionate, ill-directed lunatics whipping the backs of men, women and children to do work. The whippers are joyless traditionalists making known their rules and work through abuse. The abused laborers understand the camp as an endless, living haven of mortal death, disease and depression. Many times church workers subtly believe children’s ministry is like a labor camp. If asked to join the children’s ministry camp they fear being whipped, yelled at and beginning a slow, miserable, inescapable, Christian ministry death. Children’s ministry is not a labor camp for church workers!


Children’s ministry is church workers making disciples of children and their families based on the person and work of Jesus, the Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). Pastors are to equip (train) the church workers to do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). Jesus provided an example of making and training disciples, and he did not lead them into a labor camp! Jesus came to the earth, on God’s mission, to preach good news to all nations of his death and resurrection. Our children’s ministry is to be soaked in God’s Mission.

Jesus did not call the fishermen to participate in a discipleship training, labor camp to be whipped, tortured and abandoned by him (Mark 1:16-20). Rather, Jesus was whipped, tortured and abandoned (Mark 8:31). Jesus served mankind by being a slave to death, so that all followers would be enslaved to God’s mission of proclaiming the good news of freedom! Children’s ministry is an expression of the freedom we have through Jesus. Jesus called, equipped and trained disciples to make disciples. Children’s ministry is to call, equip and train disciples to make disciples.

Labor camps (1) rarely allow time for rest, (2) feed their workers minimal amounts of low quality food, (3) focus on the present job, (4) force work, (5) prevent freedom, (6) diminish hope of the future, (7) fill people with fear, (8) smell of death, (9) hate questions and (10) prevent good news from entering the gates. Pastors and leaders, call people to become fishers of men, not fishers of freedom from your labor camp called children’s ministry. Show them how to work in freedom alike to Jesus and his disciples. Because of this freedom, give workers rest, feed them God’s word, care for their physical needs, allow questions, pump good news through the doors of the workers souls and give them God’s mission to be on!

To be continued …

Further Reading:

The Trellis and the Vine

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This is part of the blog posts series from Missional Education on the gospel in children’s ministry.

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2 Comments

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    cliverjohn

    leaving the church to get out of a ministry

    Your point is a good one. In the old bus ministry days, the workers were worked until they almost felt like they had to leave the church to be able to quit the grind. it hurt a lot of people. The bus minsitry did good, as do all ofthe chidlren's ministries, but there has to be a good middle ground.

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    Nathan Gunter

    Amen John!

    John,

    It is interesting that your raise the bus ministry as an example, since our family was hit hard by this in the 70's, 80's and early 90's. Your brief but profound comments is so true. We need to set expectations, like you will do this for a year, 3 years or something and will be a certain amount of hours. Some believe the study of theology as irrelevant; however, theology of rest comes into play very practically in this situation. God created man to work but also rest. There are seasons of heavy working, such as a farmer goes through in the summer, but plans and rest during other parts of the year.

    Per your blog, have you ever checked out http://963coffee.com/ ? I worked for the parent company called High Point, which gave birth to 963 Missions and 963 Coffee, during my years at seminary in Dallas.

    Thanks for the comments John!

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