A thriving, growing church is one that has a successful kids ministry. They are the future pastors, worship leaders, evangelists, prayer warriors, teachers, prophets/seers, servers, and spiritual heads of your church family.
Churches that forget their youth, forget what it’s like to live/love like Christ and stagnation quickly sets in.
“Jesus said, “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”’ (Matthew 19:14)
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)
Working in children’s ministry all these years has taught me so much about the Heart of God. The wide-eyed wonder and love they have, their immeasurable faith, and their innocent trust is something every adult could and should benefit from. We need to surround ourselves with children!
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children in ones youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them…” Psalm 127:3-5)
Raising and teaching children is everyone’s call. Even if you don’t feel like it is—I promise you that so long as there is something you can impart to the next generation—it’s your job to do just that. We are to mirror God’s Heart and what that means is, “we love what He loves.”
Guess what? Our God is also a Father and He has commissioned us to be fathers and mothers to His little ones. He will give each of us the tools in order to accomplish this task (privilege).
That same truth goes for churches. God will equip you as a body of believers to minister to children if you are willing to follow His lead and submit fully to what having a kids ministry looks like for your church and it’s vision.
At Hope, we place children’s ministry above all else. We don’t lock kids away but involve them in our worship and in our ministry. It’s not uncommon to see kids serving as ushers, greeters, teacher assistants, and even on our worship team.
If we view church as a family instead of as an “adults only” social club. Things will be messier but also all the more enduring and meaningful. I’ve never longed for heaven more than right now—surrounded by my spiritual family who I’ll continue doing life with for all eternity.
And so what makes a great kids ministry? How do we cultivate this “family” atmosphere? As preschool director of our church with experience in both daycare and previous children ministries. Here’s what I have learned:
1. Ageless Vision: As a church, we need to stop age limiting/targeting because the Word of God is always relevant for every age group. Remember, age doesn’t always equal spiritual maturity. So Sunday morning-speak to the masses-use relevant terminology/examples in your sermons and modern worship (there is music every age can appreciate). In other words: the world shouldn’t change for us, we need to meet them where they are.
Bible studies can be more age/circumstance geared for furthering personal growth, but ultimately you want people to independently seek growth as well, (You can’t bottle feed people forever: give them the tools and show them how to pursue God and then let them do it). Otherwise, they will always depend on you—even living their faith through you.
2. Love children: What you love, desire, pray for, and seek—that is what you will get. A church without children is a dying church. Having a modern relevant vision which isn’t “age” geared but “walk” geared will draw young folk. (Young people=children). Stressing “family” as a core value is important to drawing families and cutting off any “age” specific labels.
Family is more than couples and children. It’s aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers…the whole package. And each role is vital.
3. Seek financial stability: You can’t have a children’s ministry without the appropriate funds! So many churches have a poverty mindset and are either afraid to push tithing or are too pushy.
You want money to flow naturally? Tithe yourself, live by example and preach directly from the Word about giving/tithing. Also, handle your money well! Have regular board meetings to discuss finances and to plan yearly budgets. Personally, I would follow the Dave Ramsey plan which is literally foolproof for both individual living and church running.
4. It takes a village: I’ve been a part of churches where the pastor and his family do it all; from worship—to sermons—to running the kids ministry single-handed. It’s not healthy and it isn’t impactful. A church needs volunteers and teams of people who are committed to the vision and fulfilling their own call/anointing.
If you want more people to step up and serve at your church, first make them feel like they can. I’ve seen pastors who wrap up their identities in the church and don’t want to give up that control. Ultimately, the more you selfishly cling to something the more likely it will be taken from you. God will say, “you’re just not ready for this promotion yet.”
So equip your people to serve, seek the Holy Spirit and let go of the reigns a bit. Trust your family! Be a church that empowers others and is a safe place to make mistakes (we all make mistakes! It’s called learning). When a pastor or a few people run it all-it looks like %20 here, %30 there. When you place others in sole charge of things they can then give it their %100 attention.
5. Let’s have some fun!: You got the adults involved and interested—now you have to get the kids excited to learn about Jesus! This is easy to do since, “as I said” the Bible is relevant for every age. It’s your job to bring the stories and it’s messages to life for the short time you have these kids each week.
Drive your kids wing theme home from the walls, ceilings, hallways, and rooms! Make it colorful, imaginative, and fun! Divide age groups appropriately and develop lesson plans that fit the ages. This involves some trial and error if you don’t have experience with children or have any teachers in your church body.
Fortunately, your church should have parents who may have ideas, and you have the internet: between Pinterest, YouTube, Amazon, and google—you’ll have it down in no time.
Your teaching staff should love kids, pass background checks, be pursuing God on a daily basis, and be overall fun people who aren’t afraid to dance, play, and get a bit messy with your kids.
6. Protect your flock: Parents will notice if a kids ministry isn’t very safe. In this day and age—security is vital! Keep a ready list of people in your church who self carry, and who know CPR and other emergency/defense certifications.
Before people serve in kids-they must pass a background check (I don’t care if you’ve known them for years, set examples by not exempting anyone from this). Also, once they join-they need to be distinguishable from the rest of the congregation: give them T-shirts or badges that show they are serving in kids.
Implement child safety in each room from gates, to outlet covers, and being mindful of chick hazards/allergies with snacks, toys, craft supplies, etc. Document injuries (we call them incident reports), keep first aid handy, don’t let children go to the restroom themselves—also be mindful of gender (use separate bathrooms-don’t send girls to the restroom with a male assistant etc.—never have a closed door unless you are in the classroom with your assistant.
Develop a check-in/check-out system that makes it impossible for adults who aren’t the parents to take children. (Our motto: whoever checks you in is who can check you out). We use a digital check in system that prints out a slip for the parents to hand in when they pick up their child, and a name sticker that goes on the children when they are checked in so they can’t leave until it’s taken off.
I could go on (feel free to comment below if you want more specifics): we also use walk-in talkies, teacher support, emergency protocols: like for fire/tornado etc. You can never be too safe!
6. Avoid the burnout: lastly, every church should have a good monthly rotation of volunteers. Try to avoid over scheduling people who need to fill their own tanks in adult service. Obviously things happen, such as family emergencies or vacations in which you’re missing some people and have to fill the void. But, be sure to let people know in advance, and be firm with those who repeatedly don’t show. Dependability is important, even in families!
I know I’ve left out so many things, but hopefully this will give you a foundation to build upon as you seek to start/ or improve your kids ministry.
God bless you my family in Christ!
Please comment below any questions/ideas you have! We are all constantly growing and learning how to do kids ministry ❤️ as director of our preschool class I am always open to new ideas and welcome them!
Thank you 😊