I work in a church where there is a van ministry. We have several children that come to church without parents. Our invitation time is sometimes difficult with many children coming forward simply wanting to be baptized. It’s hard to explain the plan of salvation while they are needing to go home on a van, and having no input from a parent. I’m having a hard time at the beginning of the conversation with a child that has come forward to be baptized. I’m always fearful they don’t understand the plan of salvation and just want to be baptized. Do you have any written out helps or guides that I can use and pass on to my teachers? Also, do you have any advice on van ministries? It is a wonderful ministry but creates an unusual children’s department.
Dear What To Do,
Thank you for the comment and I understand your problem. I’m always concerned about churches that try to counsel kids during the invitation hymn so they can announce the decision to the congregation and dismiss. I have a free eBook that I have written and will be out soon. It explains how to counsel children asking about salvation. I have two examples of counseling kids during the invitation hymn and when a child is asking because of baptism and not conviction of sin. I have also posting a video demonstration how to lead a child to Christ under the training buttons in the sidebar of the website “see”.
Van Ministry– I have served couple of churches where a van ministry was in place and strong. My current church does not have an active van ministry but here are a couple of things I learned in the past:
- It did not hinge on me but on the leaders that served in the van ministry each week.
- There was a volunteer that called each home every Saturday and asked if the child needed a ride. The parents also had a number to call if they were planning to attend and needed a ride (no one ever called ahead to notify us so don’t be surprised if that doesn’t work).
- The drivers and second adult riding along cared deeply for these kids. They often sat with the kids during worship or found adults that would serve as the child’s worship parents.
- Sunday School teachers were amazing! Welcoming kids by name and with big hugs. I watched preschool children (with their parent who rode the van), arrive in their pajamas greeted by teachers. These wonderful teachers changed their diapers, cleaned them and feed them so they could begin learning in Sunday School. Never a complaint.
The reason I mention these strengths, is because the van ministry doesn’t hinge on you. Ask your teachers if they are ready to minister to children with no parents present. Are your drivers good with serving or do you struggle for dependable workers? If so, you might consider changing to once a month or stopping this ministry altogether. Just to make those statements is heartbreaking, but you must have help and the heart if you are going to represent Jesus in the lives of kids and give Him the best. There are thousands and thousands of kids sitting at home and never hearing about Jesus any time. If this ministry is not the vehicle to reach them, then do something else. It’s time to pray and ask how God has gifted your church to do her best for reaching and teaching kids. Ask Him for a vision that you can describe for workers that will excite and motivate them to serve. It might not be weekly but rather in events or mission trips but it might also be after school, Wednesday nights or at a community center. Ask God what He wants then wait. He will show you and provide all you need if you’re willing to trust Him.
Do you have a van ministry? What tips can you give?