Published: December 6, 2023
Dear children’s ministry leader: This holiday season, know that the kids and families you serve are thankful for you! You make an eternal difference in kids’ lives. So thank you!
In the busyness of everyday ministry, it’s easy to lose sight of the eternal difference you’re making in kids’ lives. We asked some children’s ministry leaders and influencers across the country to describe a person who positively impacted their faith as a child or youth. Here are a few of their responses! Their stories of changed hearts and lives will inspire you.
Thank you for loving God’s Word.
When I was in high school, I worked as a counselor at a Christian camp. Each morning a small group of counselors met with a staff person for morning accountability. I attended Dave Sterrett’s accountability group. Every morning Dave modeled his love for Scripture to me and shared something new from Scripture. Dave duplicated his love for the Word in me and that’s something that’s stayed with me all these years. Thanks, Dave.
Larry Shallenberger is an author and associate vice president of compliance at Sarah A. Reed Children’s Center.
Your commitment makes a difference!
Every high schooler anticipated the warm, inviting environment of Christian fellowship Brother Mitch created. He made Sunday school exciting, and he genuinely cared about our day-to-day lives.
Even after extensive cancer surgeries, Brother Mitch was always concerned with our lives and with his return to teaching. Nearly 30 years later, I still remember his lessons. Brother Mitch influenced my life of service within the church. I pray that I make as strong an impression on children as Brother Mitch made on me.
Cindy Coker is a children’s minister in Estero, Florida.
Thank you for making kids feel at home.
As a pastor’s kid, moving from one church to another was common and frightening. The first day was always so scary. I was pleased when I arrived one October and the teacher introduced me to the class. She regularly rearranged our seating assignments so I met and sat by everyone. This helped me fit in, get to know the other kids, and feel like a part of the group. I don’t remember this teacher’s name, but her influence left such a big impression on me that part of my passion as a staff pastor is to help new people become part of the church family.
Joy Headley is a family pastor in Dallas, Texas.
Thanks for welcoming interruptions.
When Mrs. Brown taught the senior high Sunday school class, she not only tolerated interruptions—she encouraged them. She expected to be challenged, which gave us permission to raise questions we hadn’t felt safe asking elsewhere. Mrs. Brown seldom gave us “the answer.” Instead, she sent us digging through Scripture to discover the answers on our own.
The greatest gift Mrs. Brown gave our rowdy group of teenagers was a place where doubt wasn’t confused with heresy, or honest questions with rebellion. When I’m challenged in my own class now, 30 years later, I sometimes see her face, smiling as she recognized a teachable moment, saying, “Well…let’s talk about that.”
Mikal Keefer is the author of Notes From Jesus: What Your New Best Friend Wants You To Know and Notes From Jesus for Families: What Jesus Wants Your Family to Know.
You give so much!
My grandma shaped me, my faith, and my passion for ministry leaders. She modeled unconditional love and care, and I watched her give, give, give. Her giving was born out of a deep friendship with Jesus. Her daily devotional readings sat tattered on her kitchen table, well-read and devoured.
Grandma always had something to give anyone who stopped by. She especially reached out to the pastor and his family. I now realize Grandma helped me see people in ministry as real people who need love, support, and belonging—just like everyone else. (She knew that well as a pastor’s spouse.)
Grandma steered me toward ministry, and our connection pointed me to loving Jesus and his people.
Joani Schultz is co-author of Don’t Just Teach…Reach!
If you work or volunteer in children’s ministry, please never doubt that what you’re doing matters. This true story is one of the many inspiring stories Group Publishing hears on a regular basis. Thank you for what you do!
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