It’s back! Welcome to the triumphant return of the Kidmin1124.com Volunteer Champion of the Week. Thanks to a rush of nominations, we are happy to bring back this weekly feature here on Kidmin1124.com.
There are thousands and thousands of volunteers who turn out each weekend and selflessly serve children in churches around the globe. They do not do what they do for recognition or accolades, but at Kidmin1124 we would like to shine a light on some of these volunteers as a way to say “Thank You!” So, each week we recognize one volunteer from the world of kidmin who goes above and beyond in their service to God’s kids. Our hope is that this segment will provide some well deserved recognition to individual volunteers. More importantly though, we have asked these Volunteer Champions to share some of their insights and experiences with us so that we can all learn from their wisdom. This week’s recipients, based on a nomination from Jenny Funderburke, is (drum roll please):
Here is some background information on Stuart:
John Stuart Aldridge
2. Where do you live (city, state, country)?
Alabaster, Alabama, USA
3. What church do you attend and serve at (please feel free to include the web address of your church)?
Westwood Baptist Alabaster, AL
4. How long have you been involved in children’s ministry?
5. What position(s) do you volunteer at in your children’s ministry?
I serve as Commander of our AWANA program. I serve on Sunday mornings in our Children’s ministry (Studio 3:16), night time VBS director, summer camp, and various special children’s events, (Fall Festival, back to school kickoffs, etc.). I recently began the part time position as our Children’s Ministry Associate at our Alabaster campus.
6. Tell us about your family (spouse, kids, etc.)
Cindy and I have been married 22 years; we have two kids, Hunter – 19, and Katelyn – 14.
We also asked Stuart to share some thoughts and wisdom on some selected questions. Here is what he had to say:
1. How have the needs of children changed today compared to when you started?
Kids are still kids, but in today’s climate they face more uncertainty in the home. With today’s economy, many kids have parents that have lost their jobs, or taken reduced pay, families have had to move because of their economic situation, some families have had to move in with other family members, placing more stress on the families and on the kids. These realities cause you to rethink incremental programs/events that put financial burdens on families. These programs have excellent benefits for the kids, so the challenge becomes how to do these incremental programs/events with excellence so that all kids have the opportunity to participate. Addressing the realities of the situation should cause us all to rethink the how and what we do.
2. Can you think of a situation or a child that had a real impact on your own spiritual development?
This one goes back to camp, I believe it was two years ago. There is one night at camp when the offering is taken, this particular year, a young man told me he was giving all of his money for offering. I encouraged him to save a little bit so that he could purchase a snow-cone, shirt, just whatever. I told him it was great, and that his heart was in the right place, but it would be ok to keep a little for himself, end of our discussion. A little later, he told me he was going to give all of his money, that the kids the offering was going to needed that a lot more than he needed a snow-cone. Just totally unselfish, truly putting others before himself and honoring what God had led him to do, and I still sometimes think about how I tried to talk him out of it. Faith of a child!
3. As a volunteer yourself, what advice would you give to a new or young children’s pastor who needs help learning to recruit or retain volunteers?
Get and read Jim Wideman’s book, “Volunteers that Stick.” I am big fan of Brother Jim, and he has great personal insights and experience in all areas of Children’s Ministry.
4. What is the biggest challenge you think kids face today? How can children’s ministry meet that need?
In my opinion it would be discerning truth from lies. Our kids are growing up in a society that challenges most if not all aspects of the Truth. I know this has always been a challenge, but in today’s world, the kids are hit with sensory overload, there are so many different means of media that are reaching our kids on a day to day basis and without a solid home foundation (even with that foundation in many instances), the truth becomes distorted in a child’s mind. The video games are visually graphic and explicit, violent acts are glorified and without consequence in the video games, young kids are accessing the internet, be it by laptop, or by a cell phone. Think about Facebook, how can a 10 year old have 400+ friends and what are those “friends” posting, lyrics to music, conflicting signals they receive from some of their favorite TV shows and TV personalities. The kids in my opinion are exposed to so much more than I think we actually realize. Another thought, think about a TV show that you may watch that might have some questionable storylines and language, we as parents may get caught up in the show and not really realized that a little one’s ears and eyes are hearing and seeing those things. I think that even as parents, we may become desensitized to things that are questionable as well, maybe what we say and do while driving on the highway, our behavior at a ballgame, etc., thus, exposing our kids to things we did not intend to do.
The children’s ministry cannot compromise the truth, and we cannot try to avoid subjects that are uncomfortable. If we do that, the kids are going to seek an answer to that uncomfortable subject somewhere else. I would rather that answer be from the parents and the ministry with a solid Biblical teaching versus that “friend” on Facebook or at school. The unfortunate truth is that parents lose jobs, family members become ill, parents split up, etc. The ministry must recognize these are real situations and, to use the cliché, figure out how to partner with the parents. I believe the ministry must intentionally seek ways to come alongside of parents and reinforce all the great things the parents do and teach kids the Bible and the wonderful life God has planned for all of us. We have the greatest news in the world to share; the bad thing is that we may, if we are lucky, have kids on campus only three hours a week. We can expand that time, maybe not on campus time, but we can use all of the media outlets and not be scared of technology, but embrace it and use it. It is what kids are drawn to at this current time, let’s use it. Again, the ministry must intentionally come alongside the parents. When we have the kids, we must be teaching them the Truth, that God’s Word is life-changing.
5. What do you do personally to achieve balance in your life?
For me it is several things that I try to be very intentional about –
- Real quality time with my family, love them more than I could ever show or tell them and I encourage all to really cherish the short time you all have together.
- Cindy and my home group, this is an incredible group of people that we live life with, pray with and pray for, people need people and a home group that truly cares about each other is an incredible thing.
- My small discipleship group, four friends that have open and honest dialogue, that will challenge one another, and pray for one another.
- Also playing tennis with another great group of friends.
6. Many of us have a “favorite” or a “defining” moment in Kidmin. What was yours?
So many favorite moments, a defining moment for me was recently, I had the joy and honor of baptizing two of our kids (a brother and sister) from our children’s ministry. Wow! I was totally floored when I was asked by the brother if I would baptize him.
7. As a volunteer, what is one thing you wish that all children’s pastors knew about their volunteers?
Always remember most of your volunteers have full time employment and that, combined with their service, will sometimes lead a volunteer to over commit him or herself and neglect their own spiritual development. Do not let them. I would challenge all CP’s to know if their volunteers are going to worship, do they have an ABS (Adult Bible Study) class, or home group, do they have time to be a Mom or Dad?
To Children’s Pastors and Others who would like to nominate a volunteer for Kidmin1124 Volunteer Champion of the Week:
We need your help! We are looking for additional nominations for future Kidmin1124.com Volunteer Champion of Week recipients to keep this segment going. If you have a volunteer, or know of a volunteer, who really goes above and beyond, please e-mail their name, e-mail address and brief explanation of why you are nominating them (a sentence or so) to firstname.lastname@example.org. We need your help to make this series a success.
Prior Recipients of the Award:
Prior recipients of the Kidmin1124 Volunteer Champion the Week Award include: