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Dear Parents

This week I m reposting some thoughts I had around this same time last year.   I m really hoping I can get some comments, and would love to hear if anything resonates with you:

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I’ve had this rattling around in my brain for a few months now. I’m reluctant to post it, because I wouldn’t normally characterize myself as the embattled Children’s Pastor, who’s disgruntled at the parents in my church. I just take the kids they give me, and pray that the Holy Spirit can use some of what I do with them to make a positive impact where maybe there isn’t one currently being made. And this letter is not specifically addressed to any one parent, or the parents at any one church. It’s aimed at a wild collection of parents I’ve met over the years. I can honestly say that most parents I meet are wonderful servants of the Most High God. (Most, not all…)

Dear Parents,

Hi, I’m a pastor at the church you attend. Yep, that church. But I’m not your typical pastor. I’m a pastor to your children. It’s hard to define exactly what that means, but basically you could say that I work with the kids. Which in turn, means that I work with their families. Which you being in their family, means that I work with you. In fact, you could call me your pastor if you wanted to (or you could just call me Jonathan.)

I wanted to make you aware of a few things as it pertains to your kids’ Church Experience. So here goes.

  • You are invited to be a part of what is happening. I’ll need a background check, and I’ll get you a name badge; but after that you’re home free into the world of your kid’s church experience.
  • You never inconvenience me when you ask what’s going on in your kid’s areas. I love the questions. Yes, read that again…. You are free to question me about anything that you see or hear while in and/or around the children’s areas. I’d love some feedback, and I’d love to share what we’re exploring in the bible with you anytime. I’ll even buy you lunch and we can talk at length. I love talking about what’s happening in the lives of your children. I never tire of the questions, bring them on!
  • I am not in the business of childcare. True, I do provide care for your children while you attend church, but what my team and I do is so much more than that. From the people that change your newborns diapers up until they leave the 5th grade my team is pouring into their lives through teaching, prayer, and relationship. But you ask, How can you teach my 3 month old? Well, we don’t exactly teach them; as much as we prepare an environment that is coated in prayer for the future of your little one. Yep, we really do pray over your babies.
  • Please don’t ask me if your kid is “saved.” For goodness sake, ask them! We give your kids ample opportunities to receive Christ at church; but it’s always better if a parent walks them through those steps. If your confused about what that means, then I’ll make sure your saved; and then I’ll tell you how to talk to your kid about it. It’ll be great, just wait and see!
  • If your kid gets in trouble at church, then they really got in trouble. We do everything in our power to make church as fun, and as NOT like school as humanely possible. We give second and third chances to just about everyone; but as some point we have to protect the integrity of our areas and eliminate the presence of those children that choose to be a distraction. I have years of experience with this, and if you will just support what we’re trying to do then it won’t take but a few short weeks for your kid to step in line and never (or rarely) be a problem again. Did you read that? I need you to support what we do.
  • Be nice to my team. I know that getting kids ready for church on a Sunday Morning can be a challenge; and sometimes leads to bad feelings and ugly dispositions. (I do in fact have three of my very own.) But remember that those people standing at the door, checking in your kids, and giving of their time to serve your family are doing it for free. Just be nice to them. You can write me all the nasty emails you want on Monday morning, but try and be nice to these wonderful servants at your church.

Finally, I want you to know that I really do love your kids. Sometimes they can be difficult to love, but they are all lovable in their own unique way. Really! It’s true.

Sincerely,

Me

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.

5 Comments

  1. Kenny · June 2, 2008

    LOVE this! Incredible! Well said!

  2. Stacey Windover · June 2, 2008

    Wow! All I can say is….brilliant!!

  3. AllyEvans · May 15, 2009

    If I were to send this letter today, I would only add our passion as kids pastors, that what happens at home is far more influential than what happens at church. I’d throw in the whole 40 hours/yr at church verses the 3000 hours/yr at home thing. we are actually running a commercial in “big church” this weekend, reminding parents about their amazing responsibility to lead their children spiritually and how we, the church, are here to help them (not so much the other way around). Good stuff Jonathan.

  4. Gina · May 15, 2009

    Well said JC. I may copy this and mail it out myself. :) I’ll be sure to give u props, though.

    Gina ´s last blog post..Imagine – Mission Madness