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A Few Good Kidmen

Matt Gergeni

Practical, innovative ways to BEEF UP the male presence on your kidmin team...

From the earliest days of his ministry, Jesus recognized the importance of enlisting the assistance of men and women who weren't afraid to get their hands dirty and who had the resolve to stand strong even when facing uncomfortable situations and overwhelming opposition. He made a point of calling people into service who wouldn't let the little things like mobs of lepers or threats of prison distract them from their mission -- people who understood the need to disciple the next generation of followers.

Jesus enlisted men and women who wouldn't shrink at anything -- not even service in the nursery. Not even coping with a frustrated preschooler. Not even facing a firing squad of preteen questions. And yet more than 2,000 years after Jesus called those first 12 men to follow him, it's tough for children's ministers to convince a sufficient number of men to follow Jesus into children's ministry.

How did a faith and a church built upon the foundations of Jesus' strong leadership, bold actions, and acute interest in children come to have an apparent shortage of men willing to step up and volunteer to serve in children's ministry?


MISSING IN ACTION
When we consider the latest statistics, we begin to see why getting guys to take an active role in children's ministry can be challenging, and at times, downright difficult. According to the Barna Research Group, on any given Sunday:


• There are 13 million more adult women than men in America's churches.
• Almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands.
• Only a third of the 90 percent of American men who believe in God will attend church.
• Nationwide, the majority of church volunteers serving are females.

As Leon Podles succinctly put it in his book The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, "Women go to church, men go to football games."

So how do we overcome the weak presence of men in today's church and encourage the men in our congregations to roll up their sleeves and get involved in children's ministry?

The fact is, it may be easier than we think.


A MAN'S GOTTA DO...
At its very core, the call to involve more men in children's ministry needs to include an approach that truly focuses on creating a culture of serving, stresses Dale Hudson, director of children's ministries at Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach, Florida. In his book Turbocharged: 100 Simple Secrets to Successful Children's Ministry, Hudson explores practical steps that churches, both large and small, can take to actively encourage more men to partner with, and take an active role in, their children's ministries.

"When a church's leadership is committed to serving and communicates its commitment to serve, this creates a synergy that helps the men of the church take a greater interest in serving as positive male role models," says Hudson. "It's such an important role, especially at a time when so many young children lack positive male role models in their lives."

Here are key strategies Hudson recommends to increase the male presence on your children's ministry team.

Intentionally enlist men to serve. Never assume that the men in your church are simply afraid to commit. As with any relationship, it takes time and effort to develop communication and a sense of trust with potential male volunteers in your church. So before you post an announcement in your church bulletin seeking men who like kids and are willing to commit, get to know the guys in your church. Go to where they are in your church -- including sports fellowships, small groups, and even groups for retired church members. Remember, when Jesus built his team of disciples, one of the first places he looked was at the marina where the local fishermen stopped to swap fish stories.

After you've taken time to become familiar with potential volunteers, share your vision and introduce them to service opportunities.

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