Hi, I’m Kat Gensler-Nic, and I am starting out helping CMConnect with its writing and social media, starting with a new weekly feature that we hope will uplift and help all of you that are serving in the trenches of children’s ministry.

CMConnect’s theme from now leading up to our May 1-3, 2018 North American conference in Brighton, MI (register here for only $59 now!) is The Year of the Underdog. An underdog is a person who has little status in society or is thought to have little chance of winning a competition or contest.

We know often times, children’s ministers are treated as underdogs both by churches and society. In churches, children’s ministers are often an afterthought. Many churches do not budget for paid children’s ministry staff, and even those that do often devalue the staff they have. Those who minister to children are often seen as lesser than other clergy; as babysitters rather than those truly doing the work of Christ. They are often viewed as less-educated, less-professional, and less-important to the Kingdom of Heaven.

In addition to this, even among children’s ministers, we know there can often be an implied hierarchy, with a few big names and a lot of underdogs who feel lost in the shuffle. Often volunteers can feel lesser than paid staff; bivocational paid church staff can feel lesser than full-time children’s ministers; full-time children’s ministers at small churches feel lesser to those at large churches. We know that there are times that every person who ministers to children likely feels like an underdog.

But we here at CMConnect understand that children’s ministers are cut from a different kind of cloth: servant-hearted individuals with a deep call from Christ to take a knee and serve the smallest and most vulnerable to further the Kingdom: those Christ himself served. So to help encourage those who serve children in any capacity, we are going to start featuring one children’s ministry Kingdom worker a week, so you can be encouraged and uplifted by their unique ministries and be reenergized for your own call.

Our spotlights will be of children’s ministry leaders in the trenches of kid ministry, whatever that may mean in their particular context. This will include volunteers, CMConnect staff members, senior pastors with deep hearts for , people in traditionally “secular jobs” where they use their God-given gifts for ministering to children…and hopefully a whole lot more! Our goal is to showcase a wide variety of people that all are called to one goal: to minister to children and advance the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth.

Some of you may be skeptical or even concerned about our concious choice to use the word “underdog.” Calling a minister or a ministry an underdog can seem to have negative connotations in our world, where it’s all about victory and results and being the best.

But we firmly believe that Jesus was a champion of underdogs, and by following in Jesus’ footsteps, we are reclaiming the term “underdog” into powerful forces for good in the Kingdom of God. Jesus was all about the “little guy,” about turning traditional power structures on their head to reach the least and lost. And here at CMConnect, that’s what we are about, too.

If you would like to nominate someone making a difference in an often-underappreciated way for an Underdog Spotlight, please contact Kat at writerkatgn@outlook.com, and check back to the journal this evening for our very first CMConnect Underdog Spotlight!