Oct 22, 2014

NO KIDS ALLOWED (10 Things Churches Do That Keeps Them From Reaching Kids)

One of the most heartbreaking things I hear when I travel to speak at churches and conferences is this.

"Our church is dying.  We have very few, if any, kids.  If it continues, in a few years we'll have to close the doors."

"We can't seem to reach kids."  Everyone at our church is older."  

It's almost like there's a sign at the front door that says, "No kids allowed."

The reason kids are not coming could be because they are unintentionally doing one or more of the following...

1. Making kids sit through a service that bores them.
Kids are not adults.  So why would you ask them to sit through a service that is designed for adults?

Bill Maher, outspoken agnostic, said the reason he stopped attending church as a kid was because it was boring.  He said it wasn't relevant to his life and he hated going.  I am sure he hated going because he was placed in an adult service that he couldn't connect with.

Yes...kids should have fun at church.  If you're blood pressure just rose a little...hang on.  Here's what I mean.  When a kid says they had "fun" at church...here's what they mean.  "It was engaging.  It kept my attention.  It was relevant to my life.  I got something out of it."

2. Placing kids in rooms designed and decorated for adults. 
When a child walks into a space at church...the design and interior either says, "this is for adults" or it says, "we designed and decorated this with you in mind."

Don't expect kids to be excited about sitting in brown metal folding chairs in rooms that are painted beige or hospital white.

Besides the volunteers, the physical space is one of the most important ingredients in attracting kids.  

3. Making kids be quiet.
Kids were made to fidget, talk, move, and interact.  If you don't want to them to come to your church, then tell them to sit still and be quiet when they arrive.  

4. Spending more money on things like choir robes than you do on children's programming.
What's important to your church will be reflected in your budget and staffing.  

5. Treating them like they are 1960's kids instead of 2014 kids.
Children haven't changed...but childhood has.  Don't expect to attract digital kids with rotary phone methods.  Don't expect kids who play PS4 on Saturday to be excited about flannel-graph on Sunday.

6. Continually calling them out. 
Kids are constantly told what they're doing wrong...even at church.  This causes kids to see church as a house of rules instead of a house of relationships.  Instead of calling kids out...let's call them up to all that God wants for their life.

7. Not reaching their parents. 
When a church says they're not reaching kids, the bigger issue is they are not reaching young parents.  Kids don't drive themselves to church.  Reach young families and you will have lots of kids. 

8. Perpetuating programs that are no longer effective. 
Keep doing what you've always done...even if it's not working.  Don't change or adjust.  Yes...you'll appease Sister-So-and-So who's grandmother started the program years ago...but you'll keep having the same results.  Yes...you'll make Deacon Crabby happy...but you'll lose his grandkids.

9. Placing your best volunteers everywhere except in children's ministry.
Churches that are reaching kids have placed their brightest and best volunteers in children's ministry.  The priority of children's ministry is reflected in the quality and quantity of people who serve there.    

10. Trying to teach kids by just lecturing them.
Stand up...tell them to listen up...and proceed to download information at them through lecturing.  You'll alienate the majority of the kids and they'll silently count down every miserable second.  Kids don't learn best by being talked at...they learn best by talking and being talked with.

If you find children in your church a fading memory...be encouraged.  You can turn things around.  Sit down and talk a hard look at what you're doing.  Access where your ministry is at.  Be willing to have some hard conversations and make some changes if needed.

The future of the next generation is at stake.  This is big-time! 

5 comments:

Amen. I would add, don't have any child related items in your main areas (high chairs in eating areas, changing tables in bathrooms, etc.) Now if I could only get my church on board.... :)

Amen. Every Sunday evening we completely "remake" our fellowship hall for DC4K. Bright colored table clothes, plants, kid-friendly" instructions with pictures on the tables, kid-friendly and stress reducing snacks, TV/DVD player, etc. It takes us about an hour to reset the fellowship hall for our two hour DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids) weekly session.

The kids take ownership of the room and at the end of the evening they love taking down the chairs, tables, decorations and lugging the tables and chairs to storage. When we leave the fellowship hall is again white, boring and dull.

You may have to sign up for a free month but if you're interested you can see our before and after pictures. http://www.dc4k.org/leaderzone/news/472

Our kids in DC4K know we care enough about them to take the time to create "their" space.

Linda Ranson Jacobs

Kids, teens, & young adults are much closer vision wise to Christ's teachings about fairness; justice & inclusion. Exclusion or substandard inclusion of their special needs sibling or significant adult can result in the realization that the Church & community prefers these go to a more segregated enviroment or stay home.

Historically we will find the Church comprised of adults and children worshiping and hearing the Word as family units. It grieves me that we have been swayed by society to think that children must be taught through the colorful and flashy. We miss something beautiful when a child isn't standing beside his daddy watching Daddy raise his hands in worship, or sitting beside Mommy as she takes notes from the sermon. Welcoming children into the service, with all their wiggliness, and little sounds, I believe, is a more excellent way. That's not to say we don't build bridges to welcome these younger ones. In our church the pastor and I sit down weekly to make sermon notes for the children, based on the sermon and closely linked to the same notes Mom and Dad pick up. In his preaching, the pastor is mindful of the children, and may use an illustration from their own lives, or from the Sunday School Curriculum which they are studying. There is no Junior Jesus, and we find over and over again that the Holy Spirit quickens His word to our kids' hearts just as He quickens it to the hearts of adults. We sell our children short when we don't welcome them into the service to worship with their adult friends and family. I suggest the book: Parenting in the Pew by Robbie Castleman.

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