Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesdays with Women in Kidmin

Wednesdays with Women in Kidmin is about bringing together some of the leading 
women in children's ministry to share their knowledge and passion. 
For us to gather and learn from each sharpen each other.
As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.
Proverbs 27:17

What I Wish I Knew
- Sarah Pickering

Wendy asked me to tell you something I wish I had known or someone had told me when I started out in kids ministry. There are two things that I want to share, the first is find what you were made to do and do it and the second is take time to rest!

I have worked in children’s ministry since my first year in college, many moons ago now. As soon as the church I joined started Sunday morning services and a kids ministry to go with it I was in. It was fun to start something new and be in from the ground up. I served in many capacities within the children’s ministry from helping anywhere and everywhere, to leading an age group, to leading a worship team of youth and children and running a youth drama team and I loved it all. I did this alongside university and then teaching elementary aged kids in London, England. It was busy! I worked in school all week and in kids on a Sunday, often playing bass in the band for the grown ups and then literally running from there and switching guitars so I could lead worship with the kids through the sermon time and then running back so I could be on stage for the song during ministry time at the end. Looking back at that time it was insane, I was insane, but I loved it.

During the craziest of all seasons doing this we had a new worship pastor who made me choose - kids or adults. I could be in the worship band with the adults or continue with the kids worship but he would not agree to both. It was such a bummer to have to choose, I loved playing bass in the grown ups, and if I actually ran I had time to do it all but still he made me choose and I chose the kids.

I am so glad I decided on the kids. I was made to help children connect with God. There is nothing better than seeing little people worship Jesus wholeheartedly. There are not many kids who will fake worshiping Jesus. They are either in it or punching their neighbor. They don’t behave like adults who have learnt the protocol and know when to raise their hands, close their eyes and do the worship thing. Kids don’t act, they either worship or they don’t, they give it their all or they don’t give it at all.

So that is my first piece of advice and I am glad I was forced to choose: 
Find the thing you were made to do and do it.

A few years after I realized that kids really was the thing I was made to do I joined the staff of another church as children's pastor. I did this alongside teaching for four years. It was hard work. Bi-vocational life works better on paper than in practice. Anyone who tells you otherwise has either never done it or has forgotten how hard it was. Both teaching and pastoring are full time jobs, even when you are doing them part time, and it is not possible to provide two lots of 100%, which both jobs demand if you want to do them well. Neither teaching or pastoring are ever completed, there is always more that can be done and this was my biggest issue. I have trouble knowing when to stop. I am a lot like a horse with a nosebag when it comes to work, if you don’t take the bag away from the horse it will eat itself to death and if you don’t make me stop work I will do likewise.

I needed to learn to stop. I needed to learn when enough was enough. After three and a half years of this crazy pace I came to a standstill because I ran out of things to teach. I asked God what he wanted me to teach the children next and all I heard in reply was nothing. After seriously seeking God for a few weeks asking that he’d let me in on the plan for the next year in kids ministry I figured it must be time for me to be done and to 
hand it over to someone else and so I quit. It was either full out running or nothing. I knew there must be a happy medium but hadn’t discovered it yet. So I had some time of doing nothing.

God’s adventure package had me move to BC, Canada and I didn’t work for nine months after arriving and it was wonderful. I volunteered in the children’s ministry at the church I started to attend but had no responsibility, it was glorious. It was also frustrating, as I could see things that needed to be done, but it was glorious nonetheless. After nine months I joined the staff of a newly forming church, a split from the one I was attending, and work began in earnest. We had 550 people on the first Sunday and nowhere to meet for the second week and, in my department, no toys, nothing. We hit the ground running, and running really fast. This was six years ago and I ran for five solid years. I went from nothing to full out sprinting. The pace we took off at is hard to maintain. To start a church with 5 children would have been challenging but to start with 150 kids was fierce. There was a ton to be done, all the time, and it was never finished.

So here comes my second piece of advice: 
Sabbath is not a nice add on, it is essential, take it.

I wish someone had told me that at the start of this church, even way back in London and maybe they did, and if so, I wish I had listened.  Exodus 31:15 says, if you don’t observe the Sabbath you will be put to death and I think I was slowly putting myself to death by not keeping it. I was not made for that pace. I was not made to keep running. I need rest. Jesus says, ‘The Sabbath was made for people’ (Mark 2:27) The Sabbath is God’s gift to me so that I make it through next week too. So I have learned and am still learning to stop, renew, reconnect with God and with myself, create something just for fun not just for a kids lesson and pause long enough to look up, to get my head out of the nose bag and breathe. Currently my Sabbath pattern is to stop work on Thursday after dinner, turn off all my electronic communication devices, and separate myself from work and social media for a whole 24hr period. It took a little while to not itch to check Facebook on that day but it has become a very precious time in the week for me. It is a day for family, friends and fun, it is a day where I create and am recreated, it is a day of rest and I now know it is essential and when it is done I have the energy to go again.

So to sum up. 
First, find what you were made to do and do it and then second, take the time to stop doing it regularly so that you can go the distance that God has planned out for you.

So what were you made to do and how do you keep the Sabbath?

Sarah is kids pastor at the Bridge Church in Abbotsford, BC. She loves kids (that helps) and Jesus (that's essential). She has been in kids ministry for longer than she hasn't. She is Aunty Sarah to Ben, Tom, Finley and Connor which is a delight. She loves to paint, write, create, tell stories, be silly and is often seen with Ben's stuffed leopard, Lenny, out on an adventure which is then turned into a photo book that Ben (13yo) still delights to receive. Her socks never match, although they do coordinate and, truth be told, she is a bit of a geek. She would like to be known as one who was simple but effective.


  1. Great post! I am just leaving a season where rest was essential. It's better to take it bit by bit than to crash and burn!

    Lindsey @

    1. Absolutely Lindsey! I think that happens to many of us in children's ministry...burnout. So glad you have been able to rest. Blessings!

  2. I appreciate the part about finding what you're good and doing it. For some reason that is sometimes a hard task!

    Thanks for the follow btw! I'm looking forward to seeing more of your posts!

    1. Thank you Jess! I am looking forward to getting to know you as well. Blessings!

  3. ohhh I like the idea of turning off all electronic devices for 24hours, I think I need to start doing this!

  4. Thanks for the comments ladies. Glad it was helpful. Well the sun has gone down and it's Thursday night so I'll be turning this off momentarily.
    Happy Sabbathing when it's your turn :)


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