Jana Magruder is a name you may not know, and yet her influence is likely present in your church. She is the director of LifeWay Kids, and so if you use any of LifeWay’s curriculum there’s no doubt that her vision has impacted what your church is currently teaching your kids.
She authored the book Kids Ministry That Nourishes which offers a great insight into the purpose and vision of LifeWay Kids through her assessment of three core factors, or nutrients as she calls them, for a healthy kids ministry.
The book is an easy read, so much so I managed the thing on a one hour flight to Nashville, and that’s for someone who struggles to sit down and read. The book is also split up into short chapters with three questions closing out each one asking really, really good questions to help you analyze the ministry God has entrusted you with stewarding. I then had the pleasure of her unpacking this vision in person and it truly is compelling.
She breaks a nourishing kids ministry down into three core elements:
1. Kingdom Expanding – healthy kids ministry should be Kingdom Expanding, not simply ministry building. The outward focus of our ministry is so, so crucial. Preschool programs are all about making disciples, or should be – far from the supervised snack-craft-coloring fest that sadly some people think they are.
2. Heart Transforming – healthy kids ministry should be focused on heart transformation, not behavior modification. Her focus here is that while teaching kids good virtues and values may seem prosperous in the short term, it really bears no weight in eternity.
3. Culture Shaping – healthy kids ministry should be focused on bringing up a generation of culture-shaping kids, not kids who are shaped by the culture. Wow. I think this element of the trio is getting more and more important. Our kids need to be strong, knowing what they believe and being prepared to stand for it. She opens up the chapter with Psalm 127:4
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
How amazing is that? To think of our children in such a manner and empower them in such a way to bring change is amazing.
– Jared Simpson