Feb 10, 2015

How to Build a Thriving Children's Ministry in Small Town, U.S.A.

I grew up in Small Town, U.S.A.  We had 2,500 people in our town.  I have a special place in my heart for small towns.

The church I serve in now is a multi-site church.  One of our campuses is in the largest city in America...New York City.  Our campus there meets right across the street from Central Park and is surrounded by millions of people.

Another one of our campuses meets in a small town that is the opposite of New York.  Instead of being surrounded by skyscrapers, it is surrounded by farms, mom and pop stores and cow pastures.  It may not be in a hugely populated area, but there's no reason why we can't build a thriving children's ministry there.

If you are ministering in Small Town, U.S.A., you might be tempted to look at mega-churches that are located in heavily populated areas and feel like you're not as successful as they are.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Some of the best children's ministries in America are found in small towns.  And many of them, based on population, are reaching a larger percentage of people than mega churches in huge cities.

I am really excited about what God is doing at our campus in this small town.  Let's go on a tour and I'll share some keys to building a thriving children's ministry in a small town.

Make children's ministry a top priority in the church.  These are pictures of the adult auditorium.  We make sure we talk about children's ministry in the adult service.  The kids also come in and sing sometimes during the service.  Emphasize the importance of children's ministry to the entire church.

Invest your time in building a solid volunteer team.  One huge key to a thriving children's ministry is a thriving volunteer team.  The success of your children's ministry hinges on this.  Invest heavily in your volunteers.  Here is a picture of some of our volunteers praying together before the service.

Make sure every child is loved and personally known.  One benefit of a children's ministry in a small town is you have a better opportunity to know each child personally and help them grow in their faith.

Make your children's areas kid-friendly.   Even if you don't have a huge budget, you can make your children's areas appealing to kids.  Below are some examples.


Make safety and security a priority.  Even though the atmosphere in a small town may be more laid back, safety and security is still a must.  Parents want to know their kids are safe when they are at church.  Have a check-in name tag system.  If you can't do this electronically, then use hand-written security tags.

Get out into the community and serve.  Look for ways to support community events and get involved.  We make lots of great connections with families by doing this.  Because the community is smaller, you can really impact families personally.

Host events that families in the community can attend.  One example is hosting a Fall Festival.  We did this last fall and had lots of new families attend.
Take what you have and make it excellent.  What has God placed in your hand?  Give it your best.  It's not what you have, it's what you do with what you have.

Give first-time families a great first-time experience.   Just as in a big city, the biggest key to getting new families to return is giving them a great experience on their first visit.  Below is a first-time family check-in area we created.

Make your lessons fun, interactive and engaging.  No matter what size town they live in, kids want lessons that capture their attention and give them an opportunity to interact.

Have clearly marked signage.  Make it easy for people to navigate your campus.

Are you serving in Small Town, U.S.A.?  We'd love to hear about your church and what you are doing to reach the people in your town.  Share with us in the comment section below.


Do you know where were the Check-In white cabinet carts purchased from?

Hi Lara, great to hear from you. We got them from IKEA. They are very affordable.

Can you tell me what they are called? I'm looking at Ikea's website and can't find anything like that. Wanting to head there tomorrow to get some.

Hey Ryan, it's the Kallax line from Ikea - here's the link to the online products

Truly enjoyed your information. Thanks for sharing. As a new pastor in my small hometown, I am excited to put these ideas into action. Blessings to you,Pastor Holly

Thanks Holly. Great to hear from you. Praying God's blessings on your ministry.

What do you guys use the shelves for underneath the computer?

Do you use your own system for the sign in/sign list?

Hi Aysia. We use a program called Shelby. There are lots of great check-in system options from companies. You might check out Kidcheck - they have an ad on the front page of this site.

Love the graphics on the two classroom walls and on both sides of the tv monitor. Where are these available?
Thank you
New children’s minister

Graphics are available from www.wackyworld.tv

I've heard mixed opinions on IKEA, have the carts held up well?

Hey Bethany, great to hear from you. The carts have held up well so far. But like anything it's according to how much you use it, how much you have to move them, etc.

The wheels aren't Ikea are they? The unit itself is 30 inches tall so I'm wondering how tall they are with the wheel height - I'm thinking about the amount of bending parents might need to do. I'm starting up a check in station and need mobile carts for: Laptop, dynamo printer and scanner...

Never had any complaints from parents about height. I think the carts would be about 36 in. with wheels.

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