In the book What Matters Now in Children’s Ministry, Kenny Conley chose the phrase “The End.”
Kenny’s basic premise is that in order to succeed in children’s ministry we must focus, not on the here and now, but on the end. What are our goals? What is it that we want our children’s ministries to accomplish? In Kenny’s words we, “must be laser-focused on the end.” He argues that for years we have focused on and relied upon curriculum to result in life-long followers of Christ with little success. He explains:
“In the end, we want the children who populate our children’s ministries to be fully devoted followers of Christ, able to feed themselves and spiritually multiply. Although we often get too busy and overwhelmed with the here and now, this end is our greatest desire. If this end result is what matters most, then everything we do must be evaluated in light of the end.”
Instead, he argues that we must realize that our ministry is so much more than just curriculum or a series of programs. No matter what we do, we must keep the end in mind and ask the following questions:
“Does this activity help us reach our desired end? Does this curriculum help us develop life-long Christ followers? Does our staff structure efficiently help us achieve this end? Does everyone involved know the end and are they bought in to making this happen?”
We must not lose sight of the ultimate goal. We must focus on the end, and in Kenny’s words, “go after it with reckless abandon.” Think of telling a story. If you start a story with no clear conception of the end, you may build wonderful characters. You might describe glorious scenery. You may even include some attractive action scenes. However, the story itself will inevitably devolve into a meandering and oft times meaningless collection of tidbits of information strung together with no clear picture of where they were going. On the other hand, when you tell a story with a clear idea of the end, you can fashion every bit of the story to point towards and move the story along towards the ultimate conclusion.
Questions for further discussion
The stated purpose of this book is to spark further conversation. I have included some of my thought above, but like other chapters I have included a listing of additional questions to spark further conversation. Here are the questions I came up with:
What is the “end” of your children’s ministry? How do you define it?
Do all of your events, programs and undertakings move your ministry toward the stated end?
How do you choose a curriculum which will lead you towards your end?
Keeping the end in mind, is there anything in your current ministry that should be eliminated?
How do you convey your vision of the end to your volunteers and other church members?
What steps do you see on the path towards the end?
You can find a link to this, and all the other articles I’ve done related to this book, on my What Matters Now in Children’s Ministry Page.