It’s a tough road to walk as a children’s or youth worker when the church you’re serving is dragging you backwards into days gone by. “We used to have #100 kids every Sunday!” “We took two buses on every choir tour!” “This church grew because of all the youth that used to come!” Comments like these come from all sides and the unspoken sentence? “If you were doing your job right…”

And here you are, just trying to share Jesus with the 10 faithful kids you have coming through the door every week. You know you’re working as hard as you can, but all those flashbacks from church members make you feel as if you’re not measuring up. It’s a discouraging dialogue day in and day out.

So, what do you do? First of all, know this:

God sees and knows what you’re doing. He knows how hard you’re working, all the late nights, the one-on-one’s you’ve had with students. Keep tuned into God’s direction and He will lead you home. Click To Tweet

Secondly, understand and sympathize with where the “glory days” members are coming from; it makes it all easier. Longtime church members are fearful: they see that their church isn’t what it once was, numbers are declining, families are leaving or just not coming. They’ve loved the church for so long and deep down inside. They want their church to still be there at the end when they reach their final days on this side of eternity. Understanding that the anxious statements of past “glory days” comes from their place of fear (and love) really does make it easier, doesn’t it?

Third, here are a few practical tips to keep the unhelpful comparisons minimized:

  1. Plant cheerleaders of your ministry into those members circles. Periodically share positive stories and God sightings from your ministry to those cheerleaders so that they’re re-telling the stories within those circles. The good news will spread.
  2. Be sure that you’re helping change negative narratives by utilizing the communications forms these members read. True, your students don’t read the church bulletin or newsletter… but long-time members do. Keep giving them the good news of what your students are doing in communication forms that meets their “read only” needs. It’s worth it, I guarantee it.
  3. Find ways to weave your children or students into the places where older members are. The occasional presentation by youth to an older Sunday school class or Bible study will go a LONG way towards equipping them with new stories of encouragement, filling their hearts with love for what’s happening now, not just what happened “way back then.”
The surprising benefit from a little intentional story-telling-sharing will be that youth and children (and you!) will make Christ-like relational connections with people you’d never expected – a “great cloud of witnesses.” Click To Tweet

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