Monday, May 14, 2018

Tomato, Banana: The Differences Between Children's and Youth Ministry

"Tomato, toma(h)to?" It's more like, "Tomato, banana" when it comes to comparing Children's ministry (KidMin) to Youth Ministry (YouthMin).

Yes, they both coexist in the figurative fruit bowl of careers, but these two callings are vastly different.

It makes sense that one is often confused/enmeshed with the other, for there are some similarities. They both involve lesson planning, pastoral care skills, and volunteer teams to lead homo sapiens that are not yet adults. However, upon a closer look, one can see just how different these two gigs actually are.

When compared to YouthMin, KidMin takes more:
  • Volunteers due to the regulated kid/adult ratio. Not to mention that the variety of developmental needs of early to middle-aged kids will require a plethora of gifts among your volunteers.
  • Relational work with parents due to the child being less independent. Parents are (usually) much more protective when their kid is in elementary school, so more connections with parents are needed. (#SaysThisHelicopterMom) This will also call for a teacher who is comfortable with her participants being more dependant on her. 
  • Classroom management skills. Kids reveal when they have checked out mentally much quicker than teens.  Plus, kids (usually) have more energy than teens.

When compared to YouthMin, KidMin takes less
  • Work getting kids through the church doors because they have fewer options of outlets to be with their friends, most kids don't own their own car, and it frankly takes less to impress them. This is not permission to lower the standards of your KidMin programs though! You are not running a YMCA! Make fun the means to the end, and the end goal is always authentic spiritual formation! 💪 
  • Managment of peer relationships and dating drama. 
  • Breaking down of the emotional barriers that a teen might put up as she's trying on different identities as part of her healthy social development. (Thanks, Erik Erickson!) Ya just can't beat the authenticity with which a 4th grader presents herself, and I think in a sense we spend a lot of our adult lives trying to return to this state of presence, wonder and sense of self. Whoa--that got deep *real* fast! Lo Siento...

Contrary to popular belief, both YouthMin and KidMin involve:
  • A leader's ability to tap into a silly/fun mode of being/leading. Up that retention in their brains--make 'em laugh! You are telling the greatest story ever told, tell it with joy! Make the lasting impression that church *can* be fun. 
  • The talents to play the "political church games" enough to shift member's mindsets on what valuing kids and teens as equal and heard members of the Body of Christ looks like. 
  • Biblically sound teaching pedagogies. While in YouthMin, you want to guide your teens in safely thinking abstractly on the mysteries of the faith. In KidMin, you want to understand theological truths so well that you can transpose complex concepts into age-appropriate forms *without* dumbing it down to some weaker version of an Aesop's fable. (Get that out of here!)  

This a huge subject matter and I am excited to hear from you below on the other differences and similarities between these two vocations.✌❤💬