One of the challenges I face as a Children’s Pastor is finding good, quality resources that apply to my situation. My church is not large, we don’t have much space, we have fewer resources, and so many “solutions” that are offered in the ministry marketplace just don’t seem to fit.
One that does, however, is a book published last year by Rick Chromey entitled Energizing Children’s Ministry in the Smaller Church (Standard Publishing). I received this book as a Christmas gift from a member of our congregation, and began reading it eagerly. One of the first thoughts I had: This book was written about our church.
Dr. Chromey obviously knows what he’s talking about. The situations he describes throughout the book are quite familiar to me as someone who runs a children’s ministry in a urban church of just over a hundred members. Finances, volunteers, resources, time – all things in short supply and all must be carefully managed. I find myself part shepherd, part administrator, part teacher.
The book starts – as all good books do – with the setup. Chromey introduces us to a typical small church, a typical children’s leader, typical kids. Here they are, and and here are their challenges. From there he takes the reader through a series of typical challenges; changes, inspiration, evaluations, finances, staffing, resourcing, teaching. In some cases, he points out the obvious. “When children are left out of our church life, the message they hear is that they don’t belong.”
Chromey takes a strong stand throughout the book against treating children as second-class citizens. He seems to take the idea of “Suffer the little children unto me and do not hinder them” quite seriously. Let the kids into the soundbooth, he counsels, let them participate in worship, let them be part of the larger community (my paraphrase). One particularly touching story in the chapter on worship (as in Sunday service, not music) tells about a little girl who brought her pastor a glass of water as he coughed during a sermon. This began a church tradition- a small child is always responsible for the pastor’s water. This responsibility gets passed on over the years.
I don’t necessarily agree with everything Chromey states. He makes a very strong argument for “professional” curriculum. Guess what? He writes “professional” curriculum. I rarely, if ever, teach professionally-written curricula as written. I use it as a basis, but craft my own lessons.
Otherwise, I found this book to be a very important resource. There are a variety of checklists and charts in it that I will likely refer to time and again, and I will recommend that all my volunteers read it.