Jul 20, 2011

Children's Ministry Growth Obstacles and How to Remove Them (Pt.1)

Is your Children's Ministry growing? If not, these may be some of the obstacles that are standing in your way.

Obstacle #1 - An adult auditorium that is 85% full. Stats show that once the adult auditorium reaches 85% capacity, people begin to perceive that the church is full and there is no room for them.  Kids don't drive themselves to church and if there is no room for more adults in the auditorium, then your Children's Ministry will also plateau in sync.
Obstacle Remover: Create more space for adults or begin an additional service.
 

Obstacle #2 - Not honoring proper adult to child ratios in classrooms. When parents look into a room and see an imbalanced adult to child ratio, they will become concerned about the personal attention and learning their child will receive. This can make them hesitant to come back.
Obstacle Remover: Adjust your classes to the following ratios...

Infants - 1:1-2 children
Toddlers - 1:3 children
Preschoolers - 1:4-5 children
Lower Elementary - 1:6-8 children
Upper Elementary - 1:8-10 children

Obstacle #3 - The church is not reaching young families. Young families = children. If your Children's Ministry is not growing, take a look around. You will probably see a lot more gray hair than young families.
Obstacle Remover: Work with adult ministries to start some classes or small groups that target young couples. Place young couples at your doors to be greeters. Meet with your Pastor and brainstorm about ways to make the church more appealing to younger families.

Obstacle #4 - Trying to use a 1950's culture to do ministry in 2011. Past success doesn't secure future blessings. The kids and families you are trying to reach don't live in the 1950's. So don't try to reach them with methods, music, and messaging from that era.
Obstacle Remover: Bring the Gospel to today's kids and parents in a relevant way.

Obstacle #5 - Classrooms are full.  The 85% rule applies to children's space as well. When parents look into a room and see that it is full, they will be hesitant about bringing their child back.
Obstacle Remover: Divide classes and begin new classes if space is available. If space is not available, then consider starting an additional service.

Obstacle #6 - Unfriendly greeters.  First impressions are lasting impressions. If you have the wicked witch of the West at your entrance doors, he or she will deter people from coming back.
Obstacle Remover: Place friendly, happy people at your doors. Do not accept anything less.

Obstacle #7 - Lack of parking.  Simple math. If your parking lot is full, you will hit a growth obstacle.
Obstacle Remover: Provide more parking. This might even mean borrowing parking space off-site and shuttling them to the service.

Obstacle #8 - Plateaued or declining population.
Growing Children's Ministries are normally in areas where families are moving in. This is not a blanket statement, but definitely plays a major role in many cases.
Obstacle Remover: 
Unless you plan on providing jobs and housing for thousands of new families, this obstacle is out of your hands.

Obstacle #9 - Contentment.
The staff become content with where the Children's Ministry is at. The focus shifts from momentum to maintenance.
Obstacle Remover:
Set goals that will stretch you and move you out of your comfort zone. Instead of looking at how many people are attending your church, look at how many are not. Get on your knees and get a fresh vision and passion from God for your community.

Obstacle #10 - Limited service times.
You only offer services at one time slot and expect everyone to come at that time.
Obstacle Remover: Add one or more services times.
This may mean starting a Saturday night service or an additional Sunday morning service. More worship options equals more children.

God wants your Children's Ministry to grow and it's His job to make it happen. But He also expects you to do your part and remove obstacles through planning and preparation.

Tomorrow we will cover 10 more growth obstacles. Join me for the discussion.

Posted by Dale Hudson

3 comments:

In our growing church (Grace Church, Greenville, SC), #1 has been what has driven us, along with #5. That's what has driven us to more services, changing times, and more campuses.

I like that you put in #2. It is easy to overlook quality (an effective ratio) for the sake of quantity (we need more leaders!). But this will hurt in the long run.

On child-to-worker ratios, I think it is prudent and safer to make sure there is never less than 2 workers in a classroom or the nursery. It sounds silly for there to be 2 people to take care of one baby or child, but unless the nursery & classrooms are monitored by cameras, you are more protected from accusations or misunderstandings than if there is just one worker.

Great insight Susan. That's a must for sure. We have a rule that no one is ever allowed in a classroom alone with a child. Even if you only have 1 baby, you still have to have 2 adults in the room.

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