Penny walked in the door of the church dragging two messy, red-headed little boys behind her. Anyone who looked at her could tell she was exhausted. To her surprise she and her boys were welcomed with open arms. Her boys were engaged in children’s ministry, and, while they were hyper, they did great.
Penny got to attend a full church service for the first time in years. She couldn’t believe it. Later we discovered that Penny had been asked to leave multiple churches due to her boys. They were “too rambunctious” and “disruptive.”
In this new church, they were never once asked to leave. In fact, they were embraced. This church was focused on serving people. And they saw that Penny and her boys have value.
People Have Worth—Serve People Well
Bea started showing up at the church up the street from where she lived in nearby, low-income housing. At age 6 she was the youngest of her siblings, all of whom were being raised by a single mom. Bea showed up because she discovered the church had snacks, and she was always welcome in the doors.
There were times where she walked up the street to the church because she didn’t like who her mom had in the house. She felt safe at the church. The church enveloped her and her family. Bea was extremely loveable, but her mom was harder to love.
Bea’s mom was inconsistent, addicted, flighty, and unaware of what was going on with her kids right under her nose. The people of the church stepped in where they were allowed. They fed Bea and her siblings, they helped find clothes for all of them, and they made sure the mom knew they were for her.
It was messy, it was complicated, and it was hard. And yet, the people of the church showed up for Bea and her family time and time again. This church was focused on serving people. And they saw that Bea and her family have value.
Looking for the Need
When the pandemic hit, I stopped flying places and started walking my neighborhood. Up the street and around the corner from our house is another house. It’s full of kids and dogs and who knows what else. I walked by it regularly and could see kids in the windows staring out.
When I waved, they hid. I started praying for that house and for those kids. I asked God to protect them, and I asked Him to give me a way to get to know them. A few weeks after I started praying, one of the kids came to my front door.
He rang my doorbell and asked if I had any work he could do.
We found work for him to do. Honestly, he wasn’t a good worker. This child was easily distracted. He seemed more interested with the tools in our garage then he was with working. And he quickly started showing up regularly. He was too skinny, he told us he was failing in school, his fingers had clearly been broken at some point and never properly set, and he had a speech impediment that was hard to understand.
My husband and I found jobs for him mostly so I could feed him. He would sit on our front porch and devour whatever I brought him. Eventually he brought his little sister to meet us. After that he brought his pride and joy—his dog Demon—over to meet us.
Eventually he stole something from us, and we had to talk to him about boundaries. He stopped coming by, but he often rides by on his bike, and we wave at him. I give him popsicles when it’s hot out.
Serving people is important. He has value.
Making an Impact in Your Children’s Ministry
This guide was created to help you dive into some of the topics facing your ministries today and lead into why your curriculum matters and how to choose the right one depending on your needs.
How to Guard Yourself from Ministry Burnout
How to Guard Yourself from Ministry Burnout
Learning from Jesus
Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Gospels learning as much as I can about the heart of Jesus and His ministry here on earth. I’ve been deeply impacted by a few themes.
One of the common themes I’ve noticed is Jesus never once told someone who approached Him that they needed to “clean up” or “quiet down” or “get it together” before He could help them. They didn’t have to dust themselves off and pull themselves together for Him to hear them or for them to approach Him. He welcomed them as they were.
They had value.
Another theme I’ve noticed is that Jesus purposely reached out to those whom others overlooked or found unlovable—people like the woman who was bleeding, the lame man, the lepers, etc. I don’t believe Jesus did that because He had some sort of “discipleship strategy” for growing the church—I think He valued everyone at every level regardless of how they looked, smelled, acted, or were living.
He genuinely loved and valued all.
The last theme I’ve been impacted by is that Jesus did not ignore people’s basic needs while meeting their spiritual needs. He fed the 5,000, He healed the blind man, and He healed Peter’s mother-in-law. He understood the holistic nature of people.
Jesus understood that people who had food in their bellies could hear Him better. He understood that lame men who could walk would carry His message further. He got it.
More Like Jesus
I want to be more like Jesus. Don’t we all? Sometimes that is easy to say and a lot harder to actually live out.
The reality is, we live in a hard world. It’s hard to be human in this world, let alone follow Jesus. People are hard to love—I’m hard to love.
If I’m honest, there are individuals and whole families I would rather not engage with. They are hard, they are messy, they are complicated and those are the easy ones! Then there are families who are antagonistic, ungrateful, unkind, and just plain mean. There is no one on this earth who is not, at some time or another, hard to love. And that makes serving people hard.
And yet, nobody on this earth is without value. Some people need less of me creating a “membership path” for them in my local church and more of me loving them where they are at with what they need.
That may mean I drop off clothes, give rides, join them at their doctor’s appointments, or buy them a jug of milk. They may need my presence more than my process. They may need me to love them the way Jesus loves them.
Serving People in Every Season
The lesson I am continuing to learn is that I am called to love and serve regardless of whether it feels easy or hard. Jesus was not concerned with the hard or the easy—He was concerned with the value of the person.
While it may seem cliché … when I reach my “limit,” I consistently ask myself “What would Jesus do?” and “How would Jesus love?”
When I approach people with that thought, my limit doesn’t matter because it is expanded and even dissolved by my Creator.
Everyone has worth. Everyone has value. And everyone is worthy of unexplained, unexpected, undeserved grace and love. Because that is exactly what we have been given.
More from Melissa
- Webinar: Encouragement for Children’s Ministry Leaders: You Were Made for This
- 5 Things to Remember When Ministry Gets Hard
- When Kids Walk Away from Their Faith
- Created for Wonder: How to Recapture Wonder in Your Life
- Spiritual Formation in the Church, Home, and Community
- How to Welcome Families and Engage Kids in Big Church
- Webinar: Engaging Kids in Big Church
- Take a New Grip: Encouragement for Children’s Ministers
- The Importance of Faith Formation in Your Volunteers