Wednesday, January 9, 2013

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

Women of Influence
- Karen Apple

I was a children’s pastor for a lot of years. Even before I joined a church staff, I thought of myself as a pastor (shepherd) to children. The women who inspired, initiated, encouraged, partnered and prayed with me are MY “shepherds” and my very special women of influence.

My mother taught “Good News Clubs” and Sunday school for many years. She made God’s Word come alive with facts she learned from the World Book Encyclopedia along with games and wondrous object lessons. Public school was hard for this learning disabled girl, but the Bible was easy to understand because Mother’s inventive, experience driven techniques were all wrapped up in a heart of love for kids and God’s Word.

Mrs. Kapel taught first and second grade children’s church. Stories about “kids like me” made the Bible messages relevant and SOOO interesting. Her influence lasted long after I left her classroom because her life reflected Christ’s likeness. I knew she cared for me so I looked for her each time I came home from college to tell her about my studies and plans for the future. I wanted to be just like her.

One Sunday night after the church service, my mother asked me what I thought about the missionary’s message. His words struck a chord in my twelve-year-old heart so I said, “I know I want to teach kids about God’s Word when I grow up.” 

She didn’t skip a beat before she said; “You start next Sunday night in the two year old room with me.” That night the exciting mentorship began and it launched me on a journey that continues today. What a BLESSING to have a mother with a passion for children’s ministry and a vision for keeping the fire alive and growing in me.


Mrs. Elizabeth continues to inspire me.  She’s ninety years old now and works every week in the kid’s ministry resource room. She taught four year olds forever and advised, encouraged and supported me SO often during my years as a children’s pastor. She didn’t just “do” children’s ministry, she “lived” her faith.  

One of our staffers once said, “When I grow up, I want to be ‘Mrs. Elizabeth’!”

Every leader needs a “Mrs. Elizabeth.”
As our kids’ ministry grew, we increased the hours of our weekday preschool director to include all early childhood ministries. Together we planned, cast vision, recruited and trained volunteers. We spent so much time together we began finishing each other’s sentences and nodding in agreement after hearing only one word.  The youth pastor listened in amazement then asked, “How do you talk in short hand?”

Beth replied, “Between the two of us we have one brain.”

She knew how to take our vision and give it legs. She also knew when my visionary brain was out of control and with gentle persistence and humor she reined me in.

We never said, “MY ministry”. It was “OUR ministry”. Children’s ministry was a TEAM. It included each staff member we hired, volunteer team leaders, classroom teachers, parents AND KIDS.


After MANY years in children’s ministry, a new passion grew in my heart. I loved talking to other kids’ ministers and volunteers. Hearing their hearts and investing in their lives thrilled me. I prayed about this new idea and a ministry to kids’ leaders was born.

One of the church moms knew about this new adventure and asked if she and her prayer team could adopt me. I couldn’t believe the wonder of God’s work. Hope is a passionate prayer warrior. Her life is a shining beacon of God’s grace in the midst of hard times.  She encourages me with her faithfulness, sweetness and passion for God’s Word and the power of prayer.

Mae and each woman I mentor ask how they can pray for me. Women of action are women of prayer and I am very grateful for their loving investment in my life.

-Are women who make God’s Word their joy. (“When your words came, I ate them; they were my JOY and my heart’s delight.” Jeremiah 15:16) 
-Are “imitators of God as dear children…” (Ephesians 5:1) 
-Make their hearts Christ’s home. (My Heart – Christ’s Home, Robert Boyd Munger, Andrea Jorgenson)

My life continues to change because of God’s shepherds of influence.

Karen is a speaker, mentor and writer who was a children's pastor for lots of years. She adores Apples, especially her husband Steve.

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