If you were anything like me, you thought that Children’s Ministry was important to the church, but maybe not as important as other ministries. That was until my Executive Pastor asked me to take over our Kids’ Ministry. I quickly realized that this unique ministry had more potential and power than I could have ever imagined. But, in order to tap into it, it took a shift in mindset and vision. There are 3 reasons why Kids’ Ministry is more valuable than you I previously thought:
1. It can be a growth engine for your church.
One of the marks of a growing church is its young families. Kids’ Ministry is the bridge to connect those new young families. While this is true, having a Kids’ Department does not mean it is a natural growth engine. Churches need to truly emphasize the importance of growing trust with families by investing in safe and clean environments for kids. Far too often, kids’ rooms look like a Cheerios bomb went off in the center of Hobby Lobby. There are stacks of junk, but nowhere for parents to put their child’s belongings. When there is someone welcoming them, they have one foot holding back the door and the other keeping a child from electrocution via crayon.
Parents need to know that we thought about them throughout the week. Every interaction we have with a family is a moment to gain trust. You would be surprised how many families do not return because of their first impression of a church’s Kids’ Ministry.
To counteract that, have a clear system for check-in and check-out system. Dropping a child off at a strange place is nerve-wracking, especially for moms. There should be someone to greet the parents and give them direction. When we speak peace to parents and let them know that this ministry has structure, we build a powerful bridge. Word spreads from family to family and we see more new families than ever before.
2. It is a place where volunteers can grow in leadership.
There is a common myth we must eradicate from church: Kids’ Ministry is babysitting. For many places it is, but not at a healthy church. When your Kids’ Pastor focuses on volunteer leadership and parent connection, there is a shift in the impact your Kids’ Ministry has. At the Creek, some of our strongest leaders and best decision-makers are found and developed in Kids’ Ministry. The key reason is because we do not view our ministry as babysitting.
Preschool and elementary departments should be structured around leaders, not “do-ers”. Recruit people who can stretch their intellectual and spiritual muscles. We don’t need people who “just want to hold babies.” That won’t work because babies eventually need a diaper change. But if we connect a volunteer with their purpose, they will radically change ministry. Place people who are skilled at logistics as Service Coordinators. Place people who are strong teachers as Small Group Leaders. Place people who are great with people as Parent Greeters and Volunteer Coordinators.
“You have to move past viewing Kids’ Ministry as simply for kids.”
That may seem counter-intuitive, but it is this shift in mindset that will lead to growth. Have a great experience for kids – make it full of excellence and fun. But there are two things that should have equal or greater importance: volunteer growth and parent connection. Over the last couple of years, we have discovered that as our volunteers grow in leadership, our kids are more connected. We have discovered that as we get better at resourcing parents, our ministry grows. Far too often, we are asking parents for something…time, money, volunteering, marketing, another night of the week. But, when we establish a relationship with parents and they know you want something for them rather than from them, they respond.
3. It can be the place that establishes culture.
We all know Proverbs 22:6 – the one about training up children. But, have you ever thought about the fact that we are creating culture within Kids’ Ministry? What do you want the adults in your ministry to do that they are not already? Maybe it’s tithing or shifting to a Small Group model. Whatever it is, Kids’ Ministry can be the foundation of that change.
For our church, we believe life change happens in Small Groups. We are passionate about that. As the Kids’ Pastor, I am equally as passionate about Small Groups. We start Small Groups in our preschool ministry. They circle up, do a craft together that emphasizes the Bible story and then take prayer requests and write it in a journal. Our Elementary department has 15-20 minutes of Small Group during every service time where they talk about practical ways to live out what they learn in the larger group. Why do we do this?
First, kids are more engaged, and learn better, in Small Groups. They get to talk and mentally engage with the message or theme they just heard. They don’t learn by hearing a lecture for 30 minutes.
Second, we want them to grow up knowing how important it is to be a part of a Small Group. As they move into our Student ministry, they actively look for a Small Group because they have been in one for years. By the time they graduate high school, they potentially have been in Small Groups for 12 years! From there, we don’t have to convince them why Small Groups are important as an adult, they can’t imagine life without it.
Your Kids’ Ministry is the foundation for the culture and growth in your church. Don’t let this ministry become something you overlook as just something to do. Challenge your Kids’ Pastor to focus on growing teams instead of building programs. Challenge them to begin building the culture within the hearts of kids who will eventually be the leaders of your church. Do this and you will be blown away by the power and potential your Kids’ Ministry actually has.