Over the past few years the Lord has given me the great privilege to work with children in the ministry. I personally have taught a 3-6 yr old class for Sunday School for over 5 years, taught Pee Wee Class Wednesday night for about 2 yrs, moved to teens on Wednesday, and more recently have included the bus ministry on Sunday mornings! I LOVE each area I serve in, and thank God for the privilege often! However, let me tell you the bus ministry is a whole lot different than any area I have served before! The Lord has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone with this one, which I am truly thankful for. Everyone can be involved in most ministries if they have a willing heart, I'm not saying every ministry at once, but there should be a willingness to be used in ANY area! I assure you, our church like many, has areas where we could add a few extra volunteers to lighten the load on the rest.
The first week I rode the bus, it didn't turn out well, the kids left frustrated I left frustrated and I felt like a failure that entire week! I was so heartbroken when I went to bed that night, and prayed, "Lord I know I failed you today, I'm sorry. I am so out of my realm here, please teach me how to serve in this ministry." That week I kept praying, studying, and reading anything I could to help me. Children are SO important to the Lord, and I so want to please Him. Matthew 18:5-6 "And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." So I kept asking the Lord how to accomplish this task He had placed before me to His glory. I know the Lord was not exactly glorified the week we both left frustrated. 1 Cor 10:31b "...or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
These are some of the things the Lord impressed or showed me during my studying. Most of these thing can apply to any ministry we serve in.
* Prayer. I believe the battle is either won or lost in the week leading up to the time of your ministry. The ministry whether nursery, choir, teaching, playing an instrument, bus ministry or whatever area you serve in does not began the hour it starts. The greatest tool at our disposal is prayer! How dare we stand up to teach, sing, work with children or anything else without the power of God on our lives. James 5:16 "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." I wonder how many outcomes would be different, had everyone involved prayed for the ministry they would serve in!
* Prepare. Whatever your job is in the ministry whether helper, or leading prepare for what you're doing. This goes without saying in a musical ministry, but this should also be wherever we serve. As for me in the bus ministry, my preparation starts Monday (or in this case Tuesday, since I was at Fun Spot with teens Monday ;) ) where I decide what my promotion, songs and everything else that goes along with it will happen next Sunday. If you fail to prepare, you have prepared to fail!
* Be excited and energetic. If you are not excited about your ministry, what makes you think those you serve will be excited? Children are drawn in by someone who is energetic and excited! If you are in a children's ministry I can't express this enough!
* Behavior. At times if you are prayed up and have prepared well, this will curb a lot of the misbehavior issues; but at times there will still be those who will test you. You can always take the easy route and not let them come back, that just breaks my heart. I am reminded how much grace and mercy the Lord has with me everyday of my life. This is the only hope some of these kids will ever have, don't be so quick to give up on them and condemn them to an eternity in hell. What if it takes that child 3 years of riding on your bus route, or coming to your class to realize how much he needs the Lord? Yet he/she is kicked out on the second time they misbehave and they never get to see how much the Lord loves them and wants to save them, because you were not willing to deal with them. If you will talk to them you will see a very clear and unpleasant picture of where some of these children come from. Broken homes where screaming, yelling and violence is common, and where curse words and police visits is a daily occurrence. A young boy on my route has to alternate nights with siblings to watch his 1 month old sister, so the Mom can go out. Just breaks my heart! Then for a few hours a week, they get to take a break from their lives and come to church where God's love should be evident, and where workers are excited to see them and love them! PLEASE love them. Love those you serve, whether big or little. Sometimes you have to figure out how they need your love! Some need tough love, others gentle love; still others may need a little of both. You must learn those you serve, and what they need. You can't do that if you only speak to them when you correct them!
**I do realize that sometimes there will be a child beyond your control, but before you decide they are beyond help please try EVERY option available; pray and ask God to show you a "new" way to love them. It should break your heart to lose any child, this should only happen very few and far between!
***If you are in a ministry, you cannot glorify God if you have not prayed or prepared yourself for those He has called you to serve!
So in conclusion, the next week I rode on the bus I met with those who are on the bus with me, and kind of gave them my ideas and asked for theirs. We came up with a definite plan of action, I prayed and prepared best I knew how.....it was a completely different bus route! One of the little girls on the route said, "Wow, this is the best Sunday ever!" I'm sure it was not, but I believe the Lord allowed her to say that to give me a little pat on the back that I'm on the right track! ;)