jana magruder is a triple threat. she is an excellent communicator, a brilliant author, and a passionate leader that not only gets kids ministry but has a vision for where it is going. she is a thoughtful networker and some of my favorite times with her are around a table with other kidmin leaders at the etch conference in nashville. she is energetic and extremely humble, but this gal brings some truth that will rattle your kidmin in the best way. when i heard her speak about her latest research findings, and basis for her book “nothing less” i couldn’t run to the conference bookstore fast enough to not only get a copy for my kids ministry team but also some of our senior staff.
i love that she comes straight to lifeway from a church staff so as she leads nationally her heart is never far from the local church. i am so thankful for the ways she has challenged and equipped me as a ministry leader and i am delighted to share her answers to these five important questions.
1 – what do you see kidmin and family ministry leaders doing right?
My team talks to ministry leaders from all over the country and world. When it comes to kidmin and family ministry leaders, there seems to be no lack of passion and heart for Jesus, His Church – and the “youngest of these.” We all seem to have this in common. Every time I’m in a room full of kids and family ministry leaders, I always like to say we are already best friends because we have these three things in common: we love Jesus, His Church, and Kids and families!
2 – what do you see as the greatest need in kidmin and family ministry right now?
Our kids and family ministry leaders need a seat at the leadership table. Yes, most of us go to “staff meeting”, but I think they need to lead up and really help the broader ministry team understand the absolute urgency of children’s ministry. We all know that by age 12, a child’s world view is pretty much formed. Therefore, the years spent in kids ministry are critical and the whole church family needs to rally around the vision of what it takes to make sure kids are being discipled and poured into by godly men and women of the church.
3 – if you could have coffee with every kidmin/fammin leader, what would you want to make sure you shared with them?
Don’t forget to sabbath – and I mean “sabbath” as a verb. We usually think of the Sabbath as Sunday, a day – a noun. But as a verb – sabbath means to rest and for those of us in kidmin, that is not on Sunday. So, make sure you are taking another day (or at least half a day) to replenish your soul. If you neglect it, burnout can come so quickly and the Enemy will steal your joy. Rest in the Lord, devour scripture, and do something life-giving to you. Errands and laundry are not life-giving!!
4 – what word of encouragement do you have for today’s kidmin/fammin leaders?
Remember your calling. If you have been doing this for any length of time, then you know this work is a worthy and holy calling. Allow me to fan the flame of your calling and encourage you to keep going. Persevere and endure – knowing that He would not have called you unless He planned to equip you. Rest in knowing this.
5 – why are you passionate about children’s and family ministry?
I believe God works through the heart of a child to change trajectories in families. Most ministry leaders at church want to funnel down through the parents (and hope it gets to their kids). I like to think of overflowing hearts of children whose joy for Jesus is contagious to the whole family. Honestly, it takes both efforts – funnel down and gusher up! That is the delight of family ministry. When we work as teams who truly get this and ditch ministry silos and swimlanes, our opportunity to truly influence the family gets exponentially easier and better. For His glory!
Jana Magruder serves as the Director of LifeWay Kids. She is a Baylor graduate and offers a wealth of experience and passion for kids ministry, education, and publishing. She is the author of Kids Ministry that Nourishes, Nothing Less and Life Verse Creative Journal, which she co-authored with her teenage daughter. She and her husband, Michael, along with their three children reside in Nashville.