Building Each Other Up In Love

Lisa Cooke

Lisa CookeEphesians 4:15
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from Whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

This verse, applied in the context of the local church, can encourage pastors and department heads to take heed to the health and well-being of the workers who serve under their supervision. It can apply to every part of the local body, but in this article I want to focus on children’s workers.

One of the difficulties we hear in the churches to which we travel is the challenge of getting children’s workers for the classrooms. It is undeniably hard work to prepare the lessons, keep the children’s attention, and give of yourself for two hours or more, as opposed to sitting in the auditorium and being fed and blessed by the worship team and pastor.

When I read the above verse, I immediately thought of children’s ministry workers in the phrase “when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”The value of a children’s worker is so great that when this part is working properly, the body of Christ grows and builds itself up in love, which is the ultimate goal of any church.

We know from 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 that without love, all our efforts are as nothing. When love is developed amongst the workers, then the children will benefit greatly and will experience that love in demonstration from the teachers and leaders.

Because of the effort and even endurance sometimes required from those who work with children, I believe they can benefit from attention and encouragement for their well-being in their ministry to the church. What is it that they need to be working properly? Are there people who can assume responsibility in seeing to the needs of this group of people? Encouraging the workers does not have to be restricted to the Children’s Minister or a department head, particularly if their strength is more administrative (which is so necessary in children’s ministry) and not so much relational.

Being a children’s volunteer myself at different times when Tony and I were employed by two different churches, I know the value of being valued. I know how much a nurturing camaraderie among the workers helps promote enthusiasm for returning to the classroom each week. One of the most helpful things is to appoint “joints” or people that are good at the supply and equipping of this specific part of the body of the local church. Find your folks with the gift of encouragement and assign them the task of supplying doses of love and appreciation to those faithful workers

A church budget need not hinder the care and feeding of these vital workers. Most people have an innate need for appreciation and love. And I don’t mean the gratuitous pat on the back either. I mean a “speak the truth in love” kind of show-of-appreciation. The truth is, we need these workers and their willingness to give up the comfort of a pew for the sake of little ones being educated in the ways of the Lord. They deserve a true show of love and appreciation with frequency to fuel their motivation to come back week after week.

Here are some things that I remember being of value to me:

  • The testimonies from parents of the things their children gained from being in the classes. A pastor could encourage from the platform that the parents write the children’s department head their child’s particular experience. The department head could then compile a monthly testimony sheet that is handed to every worker so they can see the effect their efforts are having in the lives of the children.
  • Birthdays of each worker being celebrated with cards or letters of appreciation and obviously a fancy cupcake! This personal attention demonstrates how valuable that individual is to the whole group.
  • I would occasionally bake chocolate chip cookies and bring them as a treat before service to those I worked with on the children’s worship team as a very simple way to say that I appreciated their hard work. Appreciation does not have to be difficult or costly, just mindful.
  • The occasional lunch together after a service for all the children’s workers together to get to know the other workers and to visually see the power of many toward one goal of ministering to children.
  • Fun outings such as a picnic or bowling or even paintball can also promote a sense of fellowship which is the glue to holding people together. A sense of loyalty to each other can cut down on the “no shows” that might plague a children’s ministry. Fellowship breeds relationships which breeds loyalty to each other. Having fun together makes working together sweeter.
  • Having a care team within the children’s ministry also nurtures a strong bond of fellowship. When one of the workers is suffering, having a show of affection and support from fellow workers supports that developing bond within the department. Love for one another is encouraged in this way and the rest of the church will notice how this department is fulfilling the mandate of Jesus.
  • Making the children’s department a delightful place to be is also helpful to workers and children alike. Everyone enjoys being in a place that says they are valued to the point of effort being put into décor and comfort in each room. While church budgets may not allow an extreme makeover, paying as much attention as you can to the look of the department will be worth it in the end.

These types of things make the department grow so that it builds itself up in love and becomes a strong force in the ministry of the church. A lively and loving children’s ministry will strengthen the effect your church has on its families, but also on those who visit and are looking for a church home. To be known in the community for having a terrific children’s ministry is an evangelistic tool in itself.

May each part of your church work properly, making the body grow, so that it builds itself up in love. We want the world to know that we are Christ’s disciples, and the way the Bible says the world will know that, is if we have love for one another. (John 13:35)