Friday, September 15, 2023

Make Your Children's Ministry "More"

What does Children's Ministry look like in a typical church here in the USA? Well, it likely involves classes for children on Sundays and Wednesdays where they teach the "whats" - what the Bible says and therefore what we believe - at least throughout the school year. Some churches still hold a yearly VBS for four or five days/evenings in the Summer. Some churches plan special events throughout the year - typically opportunities for children and families to get together and do something fun together. For many, even most churches, this is what their Children's Ministry looks like - but it can be more.

Yes, it matters for churches to have Children's Ministries which do these things, but there are more things which truly matter and are actually essential, yet far too many churches do not do them. What are these things? Consider the following . . . 

  • Teach the "whys" - why we are able to believe God is real, the Bible is true, God and science DO go together, and God is good. When we do not make this a core part of our Children's Ministry, we end up having children who become part of the statistic Barna's research shows us - Gen Z is leaving their faith and turning to atheism at double the rate of any previous generation. Barna expects this to increase to triple the rate by 2030 - which is not very far away. Use Anchored curriculum to teach the whys - you will find it at this link.
  • Prioritize follow-up. Every Monday and every Thursday, the first thing the Children's Ministry staff should do is to pray for and send cards to every child who was missing on Sunday and/or Thursday. It is fine, and important, to say you want children in your ministry to feel loved, but if you do not do this one essential thing, they will not feel loved - and will not believe your words. Sending cards is a simple and effective way to show you care. This practice should be part of every Children's Ministry.
  • Know which children in your ministry are brought to church by their grandparents. This number is growing in almost every church. It is vital for you to know who these children are because they may have a challenging time making friends and connecting - feeling like they belong. Their parents and the parents of the other children are likely not friends, so this makes it more difficult for them to fit in with the "church kids". When you know who they are, you are able to be intentional in encouraging friendships and in helping them connect so they feel like they belong. This matters.
  • Support parents and grandparents by providing resources to equip them to hand down confident faith to the children they love. Parents are the most influential people in the lives of their children and grandparents are the second most influential. Take advantage of this and equip them so together you and they are able to focus on what matters the most - handing down confident faith.
  • Provide consistent volunteers - recruit them to serve during the school year - every week, or during the summer (to give your school-year volunteers the summer off.) If you want your volunteers to build strong, healthy relationships with the children in your ministry, then they have to be there every week to do this. Treat serving as something wonderful - as a way to experience joy from God as you serve together and then recruit volunteers to serve with relationship-building in mind.
  • Support and Encourage your volunteers. If you are asking for more than a week a month from them, you must support and encourage them - and this this in an intentional and thoughtful way. Support them by selecting the best curriculum - if you do not write it yourself (which is the most effective option for a church, but not all churches are able to do this.) Provide regular opportunities for training so your volunteers feel equipped and able to teach (but do not stop your weekly opportunities for children to train - instead offer training before church or after church on a Sunday. If you do this, provide breakfast/lunch and child care.) Support them by providing prayer partners and by being intentional when it comes to connecting your volunteers with people in the Sunday classes they would attend if they were not serving. Encourage them by giving them little encouragements - a pack of DoubleMint gum with a tag which says, "We are doubly thankful you are part of our Children's Ministry team!", or a tea bag with a tag which says, "You are 'tee-rific'! We are so thankful you are part of our team!" Plan a yearly volunteer appreciation event. There are so many ways you are able to encourage your volunteers - make sure you are intentional in doing so. Learn more about this with the book No Cookie-Cutter Children's Ministries which you will find at this link.
And, keep in mind. When it comes to the summer, do not "roll up your sidewalks." The summer is the perfect time to connect with children and families - but do not make everything you do an event which happens in the daytime. Not all families are able to provide transportation in the day during the week. Keep this in mind.

Children's Ministry is the things we typically think of when we think of it, but it needs to be much more. Make your Children's Ministry "more" - when you do, you will find you are truly impacting children, parents, and grandparents - and this matters.

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