With all the work that lay before us in children's ministry, nailing down the major elements we should focus on when attempting to build a healthy children’s ministry department can seem daunting but DON’T STRESS. You got this! Here’s a good motto to live by…
“Never let it rest. Til your good is better and your better is best!”
For this week’s blog, I want to share with you what I believe to be the 4 greatest areas every children’s ministry should be focusing on in order to reach optimal health.
In order for a children’s ministry to be successful, an environment must be built with the idea of making church irresistible to kids. There’s just no getting around this. Having fun is still important in children’s ministry. Obviously it’s not the most important thing but fun when it comes to kids will always be a non-negotiable. If kids are having fun and enjoying themselves they will want to come back. Fun and creativity connects with the hearts of kids because well…they’re kids! Fun builds trust, emotional intelligence, stimulates the brain, and better positions a child to learn. With church attendance in a steady decline as reported by Barna, Pew Research, and Gallup polls, with Millennials and Generation Z leading the charge, there has been a lot of conversation around what needs to change in children’s ministry; and while I agree some things need to change, fun is not one of them! Boring children’s ministries will become irrelevant kid-less children’s ministries. If you are comparing children and parents of today with children and parents 20 years ago, you are missing the boat. Everything has changed including one’s commitment to the church. If kids go on a complaining spree every time it’s time to go into your environment, you better believe there is going to be some sheep shuffling and your numbers are going to decline as families leave in search of an environment that better “suits” their entire family (aka…isn’t a major drag to their kids).
Listen, if you’ve been feeling convicted because you feel like you have focused so much on fun that you have lost sight of the gospel message, I get it. But taking fun out is not the answer, balance is. Fun and entertainment is only meant to be a hook to something so much greater. If you have found yourself in a place where the truth is being drowned out for fun, it may be time to take a step back and reassess your schedule to ensure an appropriate amount of time is being made for actual faith building. Maybe that goofy skit went a little too long? Maybe you had too many rematches for that game? Whatever it is, correct what needs to be corrected, be realistic with the time you have, but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t stop having fun!
The church has got to become better at partnering with parents. Parents are busier today than ever. PARENTS NEED HELP and children’s ministries should be there to help them. We have to stop operating as separate entities and finally come alongside parents when it comes to the spiritual development of their children. Children’s ministries are not the end-all-be-all for a child’s spiritual development. That role has always been commissioned to the parent. We must encourage parents to build a legacy of faith for their kids and support them in doing so in sustainable and practical ways. Encouraging working dads to pray with their kids at night. Motivating moms to create space to listen to the hearts of their children while using that time to establish core values. Connecting parents with mentors that help them to understand God’s plan for their family and who serve as a sounding board for their struggles. The list goes on. My point is, children’s ministry leaders must think of themselves more as coaches for the parents who are out on the field doing the heavy lifting. Our role is to simply offer support in helping parents maximize their performance and pushing them to reach their peak potential when it comes to the spiritual development of their kids.
3. The Dream Team
Great things in life are never done by one person. They are done by a team of people. A team is not simply a group of people that work together or even wear the same shirts, but a group of people that trust each other and value what each individual member brings to the table. When there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved in any environment. If your team = you still doing all the work…then honey, you don’t have a team or if you do have a team, it’s certainly not a strong one.
Strong teams collaborate
Strong teams build each other up
Strong teams respect one another
Strong teams operate off of clearly defined expectations & clarified roles
Strong teams though they be different are united and work towards the same goal
Strong teams are diverse (age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, & skillsets)
Strong teams communicate
Strong teams help to carry the load
Remember, children’s ministry is not a solo sport. Effective TEAMWORK in children’s ministry will always make the DREAM WORK!
4. Church Leadership
I can’t tell you how many children’s ministry leaders I have encountered that have expressed their doubts when it came to the support they had from the senior leadership at their church. Now I’m not saying that abuse and neglect by senior leaders isn’t real. Even though that has not been my experience, I have beloved friends in the ministry who had no other choice but to make the painful decision to leave an abusive situation for the sake of their own mental health and I would have never advised them otherwise. What I am saying, is that I do believe that most pastors do care about the children’s ministry in their churches. But because of the heavy weights they carry in their own roles, it is not uncommon for them to find themselves a little removed from the happenings of the children’s ministry department. Unfortunately, this can inaccurately be translated as “The pastor doesn’t care about children’s ministry” which couldn’t be further from the truth.
As ambassadors of the children’s ministry, it is your responsibility to keep the happenings and goings-on of the department in front of the senior leadership. Simply stated, out of sight, out of mind. If this is something that is new to you, try to meet senior leadership where they are. Most pastors and church leadership in general have a shared interest in souls and lives being changed by the power of God. Guess what…that’s happening in your children’s ministry! Make it a practice to testify of the goodness of God through the changed lives of God’s precious little ones. Sharing testimonials will also help to shift any negative perspective that children’s ministry is childcare for the adult service but rather a place where lives are being changed and future generals of the faith are being trained.
When it comes to your children’s ministry, which one of these areas do you need to work on the most?
Check out other resources by Esther Moreno