by Grant Crawford
Jesus made it a priority.
Matt 18: 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
Children’s ministry has become a primary need among parents in the 21st century. The following influences render children’s ministry important:
- Ministering, caring for their children, is a doorway into parents’ lives.
- Parents lead demanding career-driven lives
- The world’s pattern for parenting is usually dysfunctional
- Social media and digital entertainment play a larger role in forming values in children’s lives
- Parents are desperate to do the best for their kids
- We live in a competitive society
- Many parents feel as though they are not doing well enough as parents
- Parents risk idolising their children
We have generally found that the older a person gets, the more resistant they become to receiving the gospel. Anti-God messages hit our children so early these days because of an acceleration in communication methods.
Traditional models of ministering to children
As a local church we do not want to slip into these practices
“We are a family, so kids should be in the adult meeting, because families worship together.”
We don’t compel our children to stand in our shadows all day; when we visit friends they play in the garden. There is a balance here. If Sunday messages are aimed at adults, the children are likely to remember church as a very boring place.
“Children’s Sunday school works best when it follows school principles.” These principles include discipline, routine, a preoccupation with knowledge, and forced attendance. Most children want a break from school over weekends.
“We just need to occupy the kids while mom and dad are ministered to.” This normally results in a lack of imagination, purpose and ultimately kids get up to nonsense or seen as a nuisance.
“We admire those who do it they are amazing people, but I am not getting involved.” A high child to parent ratio helps in crowd control. Skilled adults develop coping mechanisms designed for survival rather than discipling children.
“We split the ages up into small, age specific groups and disciple them that way.” This is a good philosophy provided you have a large amount of enthusiastic and skilful leaders.
The indicators of a fruitful children’s ministry:
- Are happy when they drop their children off.
- Partner with the messages/curriculum.
- Speak to their friends about it.
- Volunteer on ministry teams.
- Bring their children regularly.
- Get saved
- Bring friends
- Ask their parents not to miss church
- Grow in faith
- Participate in meetings
- Are noticed, welcomed and followed up
- Return a second time
- Develop a habit of recruiting their friends
- Specialisation of volunteers
- Are committed and rewarded
- Growing in their faith
View of rest of church
- Talk to their friends about it
- Give financially into it’s development
Principles that we use at Uptown
- Jesus centred, not children or leader centred.
- Holy Spirit presence evident in the meetings
- Excellence in presentation
- Ratio of kids to adults is 1:8 minimum
- Partnering (communicating) with parents
- Experts in their field operating in their gifting.
- Communicate in the way/style that kids understand
To make Jesus irresistible to children we need to expect God’s presence, have loads of energy, memorable facilities and have a model that is sustainable.
Our model includes
- Engaging parents at drop off and pick up and with (For example, we give them media to take home)
- Volunteers who specialise in admin, hosting, story-telling, worship, small groups, MCing, sound, lighting, back up logistics, media etc
- Small groups
- Regular, specialised volunteers
- Worship and story telling in big groups.
- Ministry in small and large groups
- Our age splits are 1-4; 5-6; 7-12.
- Even our new/small sites are to use this model- we don’t water it down for numbers sake.
- Create a culture of raising teams
- Work with site captains
- Create the need/post for which people can volunteer
- Make sure people are operating in their gifts
- Compliment, encourage and give feedback to your volunteers
- Pray for
- Redeem service
Dealing with parents:
Make sure their first impression is one of energy and safety
Dealing with new kids:
Remember that they are fearful of the unknown and may be feeling uncomfortable. It’s worth following up with the kids who attend.
Ask the question , “why do we want to run it?”. A very important consideration is to measure the return for the energy invested into the event.
- Set up should be complete: a compelling mood set, a clean environment, exciting music, and a team waiting and prayed up, ready to receive the kids
- Car park presence
- Sign in
- Uptown brand should be visible
- Safety should be prioritised
- Parents should have a good first impression
- The facility should be well maintained
- There should be no litter
We hope that this resource blesses you and the way you grow your children’s ministry. Feel free to print, edit and distribute this document.
Feature image acknowledge: collegecanvas.wordpress.com