Every one of us in children’s ministry has a unique story. Mine began several years ago when I was volunteering in the nursery at our church. On a semi-regular basis, I would show up and love on the little ones with no preparation and no real responsibility. I had noticed that we often didn’t have any babies, but we had a room full of toddlers who were just playing when they could be grasping biblical concepts we weren’t teaching. But my children are grown, so I wasn’t looking for involvement.
That fateful Sunday, when I was volunteering in the nursery, our children’s ministry director stopped by and mentioned that our church was going to start a class for the 1- and 2-year-olds separate from the nursery. Immediately, I felt the Lord saying, “Barb, I have stirred up frustration in you that the toddlers are just playing and not being taught about Me. I want you involved in starting this class.” I reminded Him that my children are grown, and I wasn’t looking for involvement. He kept nudging me.
Out of obedience, I met with the children’s ministry director and offered my service. She was thrilled and gave me the curriculum that she wanted to use for the class. It was a totally different approach than I had ever used before, so we agreed to start with the Creation story and progress from there. She pointed out the parts of the curriculum that were most important to her, so they were implemented the first Sunday, and have been part of this class ever since.
Before long, the room was transformed. Two teenagers in our church painted an adorable mural on one wall of the classroom. Several ladies from the church gathered ageappropriate toys from the nursery and 3- to 5-year-old class and placed them in colorful bins for us. A kitchen set appeared. A changing table was placed in one corner. A bulletin board was hung near the teaching table that holds the kids during lesson time.
From the beginning, the Lord blessed me with AK as my co-teacher. What a blessing to watch this young mom teach the children — including her own preschoolers as they pass through our class. I may be older than AK’s mother, but there is so much that she teaches me about relating to the little ones.
After offering the class only during first service for about a year, our growing church attendance demanded that we offer it during second service, too. That was a huge adjustment. Instead of AK and me casually talking through our plan for the next month, we needed a plan — in writing — that other teachers could implement as well. We encouraged each new volunteer to observe a first service class so they could see how we teach and how the class flows throughout the hour.
What have I learned from being in the 1s-and-2s ministry from the beginning? Jokingly, I’ve learned not to be embarrassed when I need to take an ibuprofen after teaching. Seriously, I’ve found that on weeks when I teach, I NEED to also attend a worship service. Serving the Lord through the 1- and 2-year-old class is an awesome privilege, but it cannot replace my much-needed worship time.
The Lord has done a good work in me. He has moved me from simply being obedient to being simply obsessed with this powerful, delightful, exhausting ministry!
- Importance of the class for the children — We are their first teachers, and we can set the tone for positive learning experiences.
- Importance of the class for their parents — We are offering them a time of uninterrupted worship as well as a happy child who has learned a simple but powerful, biblical concept.
- Not perfection, but love and safety — It’s easy to get frustrated when the sheer number of kiddos in the room (or the number who come in crying) waylays the actual teaching time. But the bottom line is that each child has been loved and kept safe… in the mighty name of Jesus!
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