Lisa Dickenson is the children’s pastor at Harvest Taylor Ranch. Although she was already serving in a large capacity throughout Harvest, I know that children and parents couldn’t be happier with her decision to take over as children’s pastor. Lisa is the kind of person who always makes everyone feel loved and special, young and old. It’s no wonder she’s the perfect person to lead the children’s ministry. Whenever I’m around Lisa, she makes me want to be a better person through no conscious effort of her own, other than being herself.
That is what real Christianity looks like. When you’re around the real deal, you always leave their presence feeling better than you did before, not worse. In fact, I recently read an article titled, The Most Attractive Quality in a Leader, which is described in a quote by C.S. Lewis as, “the inside is bigger than the outside.” That is Lisa. She doesn’t put on a show or pine for attention or status. Her inside is bigger than the outside, because who is on the inside is a loving God who radiates for all to see. I hope you enjoy this interview with Lisa as much as I have.
1. What is your experience working with children?
I’ve served in some aspect of kids ministry since I was 12 years old. With my parents being pastors, most Sundays and Wednesday nights I could be found holding a baby or carrying a toddler on my hip while helping in nursery or children’s church. As a teenager, one of my first jobs was working after school in our church’s preschool and throughout college I worked at a daycare. My degree is in elementary education and I’ve taught 2nd grade at Life School in the inner city of Dallas and taught kindergarten here at Hope Christian in Albuquerque. But what’s given me the most experience and produced the most growth in my life is being mom to our three amazing girls: Mercy, Ava, and Eden.
2. What made you want to work with children?
I’ve always loved kids! I honestly believe that kids are the very best kind of people. I learn just as much from them each week as they learn from me. I don’t take lightly the calling to shape little hearts and minds for the Kingdom of God. Having the opportunity to point children to Jesus, which has an eternal impact for generations to come is an absolute honor.
3. What is something you have learned from the kids you have worked with throughout your career?
It’s hard to narrow it down to one thing because I’ve learned so much from the kids that God has put in my path over the years, but here are some of the highlights: 1.) We don’t all have to look, sound or think the same. Life is actually more enjoyable when our friends are all a little different. 2.) It’s okay to cry when you’re upset. But after you finish crying, wash your face and move on. If not, you’ll miss out on all the fun. 3.) Ask lots and lots of questions. It’s okay to ask for help when you need it. You don’t know everything and neither do I. 4.) It’s okay to fail. That’s what erasers are made for. Nobody’s perfect. 5.) Every day is a fresh start. Forget about yesterday’s mistakes. Each morning is an opportunity to make new friends, start new adventures, and learn new things. 6.) Slow down and enjoy the little things. Open your eyes and look around. Life is so much more beautiful when we notice the tiny God-miracles like flowers and sunsets that surround us every day. 7.) Help your friends get back up when they fall down. Help your enemies up too. You never know, they could be you best friend tomorrow. 8.) It’s okay to be silly! The more you laugh, the better everyone feels. 9.) Live for today. Don’t dwell on the past or think too far ahead. Be fully present now or you’ll miss the joy that today has to offer. 10.) Dream BIG! You can be and do anything you set your mind to. Your potential is limitless!
4. Why do you believe children’s ministry is a vital part of Harvest?
From the beginning to the end, God speaks about the importance of children through His Word. Because children are important to God, children are important to us. Eighty percent of people receive Christ between the ages of 4 and 14. It’s our responsibility, as a church, to take every opportunity available to point children to Jesus. As we do, it has an eternal impact for generations to come. That’s what legacy is all about!
5. What compelled you to take over the children’s ministry at Harvest?
My husband! (Laughs) No, seriously, the summer of 2017, I felt the Lord say that the upcoming school year would be my last teaching for a season. I only told this to Jason and two trusted mentors. I had no idea how the logistics of this “God whisper” would play out. I only knew that God had spoken to me and I trusted Him to show me the next steps when the time came. During that next year of teaching kindergarten, the position of Kid’s Pastor at Harvest suddenly opened up and needed to be filled. Along with some other great leaders, I stepped in and helped where I could, but I knew I couldn’t sustain the responsibilities of being a pastor’s wife, a mom, teaching kindergarten, and being a Kid’s Pastor all at the same time, so we began actively searching for someone else to fill the role of Kid’s Pastor.
In the process of searching, it seemed as if every door was closed. Every lead we began to pursue, just brought us to another dead end. It was now the summer of 2018 and I began prepping for the next school year, acknowledging in my heart that I must not have heard God as clearly as I had thought in regard to me teaching another year. Shortly after this, Jason, the kids, and I decided to take a last-minute trip to Colorado before the upcoming school year started. As we were driving, we talked about the difficulty in finding a Kid’s Pastor and he said, “What if every door has closed and every lead has been a dead end because you are who God has called to lead Harvest Kids during this season?” I immediately knew in my heart that he was right. God has always been very evident and clear when asking us to do new things and what else could I say, but YES!
6. How do you prepare for service?
Downloading curriculum, printing out lessons, scheduling nursery, preschool, and kid’s workers, gathering materials for small groups, buying snacks, prepping for games and object lessons, but mostly lots and lots of praying for little hearts to be receptive to what God is speaking to them each week.
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7. As the Children’s pastor, what is your goal with Harvest Kids ministry?
My prayer for Harvest Kids is that the next generation will be inspired to encounter and follow passionately after Christ. My goal is that we will create and environment ripe for experiencing the presence of God, developing healthy relationships, and learning to make wise choices. My heart is that they would be equipped to know how to love God, love others, and how to hear the voice of God.
8. What is the main thing you want children to take with them when they leave Harvest Kids?
I want each child to walk away knowing that they are unconditionally loved, not only by us, but by the God of the universe who created and formed them in His image.
9. I hear about so many children not wanting to leave, how does that make you feel?
It makes me feel like mission accomplished! If kids feel safe, loved, and are having fun, then they are more likely to be open to the Gospel that’s presented to them each week.
10. It is crucial for children to receive a cohesive message about the gospel when they are at church and when they are at home, what is your plea to parents to ensure this is happening?
Over the course of a year, a church will have an average of 40 hours to invest in the life of a child. That’s significant but what’s more significant is that parents, on the other hand, have over 3,000 hours to influence their children in a year. It’s imperative for parents to realize that what happens at home is even more important than what happens at church. Jim Elliot said, “The light that shines farthest, shines the brightest at home.” Parents have more influence, responsibility, and time in the life of their children than anyone else. So, let’s partner together as we influence and disciple these little world changers for the Kingdom of God.
11. What would you like to say to those who are on the fence about serving in the children’s ministry?
Try it, you’ll like it! There are so many opportunities to be involved. If you’re not sure where you’d fit in, set one Sunday service aside to “tour” our kid’s ministry at Harvest. During this service you’ll observe by spending 30 minutes with babies in the nursery, 30 minutes with the preschoolers, and 30 minutes with the elementary kids to see where God may be leading you to serve. For some people that may be serving once a month and for others it may be every week. Not all volunteers are able to put in the same amount of time and that’s okay. We’ll work with you to find the best fit for you and your family!
Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. —Jesus, Matthew 19:14
If you would like to join the Dream Team at Harvest Kids, sign up for our next Discover class!
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