I love Major League Baseball. I love the tradition, the records, the feel of opening day, the warm mid-season games, the cold playoff baseball . . . honestly, there’s not much I don't like about baseball. One of the more specific things I love about MLB is the Minor League farm system they have. No other sport utilizes a farm system quite like baseball does.
I recently realized that when it comes to the minor league system, there’s a youth ministry parallel I think is pretty valuable for us.
For those of you who might not be familiar, major league teams will draft a player out of high school or college. Instead of putting them right into the pros, teams send them to their minor league teams to grow and develop. Every MLB team has at least three levels of developmental teams. Players spend the time they need to develop their skills. When, or if, they get ready to play on a major league level, they are called up from the minors.
So why am I bringing this all up? Is there a “ministry” point to any of this? There is, one that I have found to be very valuable in my ministry.
The point is this: most youth ministries have a minor league system right under their noses, a sort of student ministry farm team. That farm team is your children's ministry. That's right. The future of your youth ministry is being developed within your own church. I personally believe that your student ministry could potentially be much stronger if you will make an intentional investment in your church’s children's ministry program.
I can hear many of you now. “But, Tom, I don't have enough time in the day to invest in my own ministry, how can I engage in someone else's program?” I hear you. I do. But, if you want to really maximize the effectiveness of your church’s investment in students, you’ll make time to engage with your church’s children’s ministry.
Many of the K-5th graders in your church are your future students. The more comfortable they are with you and your ministry as an elementary aged student, the easier it’s going to be for them to move into your ministry when they get into middle school.
I’ve been working with our children's ministry ever since I came on staff at my church over 2.5 years ago. I’ve been fortunate enough to build some very solid relationships with the elementary students. I can honestly say that many of the 5th graders are nipping at the bud to join our student ministry. They are excited about becoming part of what we do, which is such a cool concept.
To take this further, I’ve also been investing time at my daughter’s elementary school (which is just a few miles away from my church). That, too, is fertile soil for new relationships. The more “face-time” I can get with elementary aged students and their parents, the better for our ministry.
Seeing your children’s ministry as your “farm team” is more work? But it's worth it.
I've seen tremendous fruit from my efforts. I would imagine your experience would be the same And maybe it already has!
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you seen the fruit of investing in your children’s ministry? I’d love to hear from you.