Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Making a difference

I’m in our sunny capital city this week.  A highlight of my Wellington trips is my stay with Kids Friendly champion Anna Davis and her family. 

Anna Davis - making a difference
Anna is a passionate, highly skilled and life changing children’s minister at St John’s in-the-City Presbyterian.  I met Anna 15 years ago when I started my role as children and families worker at St Heliers Presbyterian.  At the time Anna was the only other “employed” children and youth worker in Auckland.  I was in awe of her accomplishments at Somervell Presbyterian and greatly appreciated her advice and encouragement in my new role. 

When Emily and I were researching “best practise” children’s ministry during the Kids Friendly pilot in 2004, we interviewed Anna to tap into her wisdom and experience.  I rate Anna as one of our top children’s ministry leaders (and I’m pleased to say in 2012 there are now many outstanding children’s leaders joining her ranks!)  Despite her accomplishments, Anna still wonders if she is making “any difference”. 

From where I stand Anna and her committed team of over 80 volunteers are making a huge difference as they impact lives and grow disciples for Christ. 

Eight pages are dedicated to children’s ministry in St John’s latest annual report (with the front cover illustrated by children and entitled “Children of God”) which is, I believe, just another indication of this church’s commitment to ministering with children and youth.

In her report Anna reminds her church that: “If children are at the centre of life in the kingdom then we must bring children into the very centre of our faith community so that they can minister to us.  As a church committed to being Kids Friendly, we need to keep seeking ways of partnering with children so we can encounter the living God together as fellow Christians journeying along the way and growing in faith.”

I remember my wise minister Martin Baker gently reminding me in my early days of children’s ministry at St Heliers to avoid trying to quantify my successes.  He assured me that my ministry was touching and changing lives, but suggested that rarely would I find tangible evidence of this. 

Over the years in my Kids Friendly ministry I have learnt to “do my best and let God do the rest”. 
However every now and then we do receive wonderful affirmation and confirmation of our contributions to God’s work.  

Nikki and Ryhan
Khandallah Presbyterian
For me this comes when I hear of a church that has made real progress in becoming Kids Friendly.  A visit to Khandallah Presbyterian this week inspired me as I heard  and saw how new minister Ryhan Prasad and children’s ministry leader Nikki Hughes are connecting with and serving community children and families and including them in an intergenerational Kids Friendly worship service.

And then I received an email from another of our Kids Friendly churches this week saying:  “We are now experiencing real positive results of being Kids Friendly for so long.  Our minister is taking 11 baptisms this month and three confirmations.  I want to let you know that the launch of Kids Friendly all those years ago was just the injection so many of us needed.  The off-shoots are the churches of the future.” 

We all love to know that we have helped make a difference.  Tell someone  you know how they are making a difference this week.

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