20 Tips from a Church That is Exploding with Growth

Last weekend, I visited Church of the Highlands in Birmingham.

Church of the Highlands began in 2001 and is exploding with growth.  They are ministering to over 30,000 people each weekend.

Highland Kids is their children's ministry.  Highland Kids is led by Beth Cunningham.  She was gracious enough to give us an inside look at their ministry.  We picked up so many great tips.  I want to share some of them with you.

Tip #1 - Keep it simple, laser focused and strategic.
  Highland Kids (and church) is very strategic in what they do.  They say no to a lot of good things, so they can say yes to a few great things.  They go into each ministry year with a set number of events, conferences, etc.  

Tip #2 - Provide clear growth steps for people.  They have four growth steps.  Each of these steps has a class attached to it. You can see them in the picture below.

Tip #3 - Make serving a big part of your church culture.  Class 401 centers around serving.  The class begins with teaching about serving and then people choose which ministry they want to serve in and go to that area for training right then.  Through this intentionality and clear step, they are able to move people into serving with a very high success rate.

I believe one of the biggest factors in their growth has been their commitment to help people find their place of service.  The weekend I was there over 2,100 people served in children's ministry.  As leaders, success is not measured by doing ministry but by equipping people to do the work of the ministry. 

Tip #4 - Invest not only in kids who are guests, but in their parents as well.  Like many churches, they give a gift to every child who is a first-time guest.  But they take it a step farther and also give each parent a gift.  The gift is the book "Praying Circles Around Your Children" by Mark Batterson. 

Tip #5 - Pray for kids.  They have prayer cards that kids can write down their prayer requests on.  These cards are collected each week and prayed over.  One of their goals is for every child to hear a leader pray for them each weekend. 

Tip #6 - Create stickers the kids can wear to remind their parents about upcoming special days or events.

Tip #7 - Have a drop-off area close to the building for families with kids.  Families can pull up and one of the parents can get out with the kids. 

Tip #8 - Encourage people to do an act of kindness and then leave a church invite with the person.  Below you can see the card holder.  People are encouraged to do things like pay for someone's meal and leave the card for them.  They constantly have stories of people who have come to the church because of this.


Tip #9 - Remind your volunteers what an honor and privilege it is to serve God.  In each area of service, you will find this sign.  What a great reminder for volunteers to see each week.

Tip #10 - Be learning from two people who do your job at another church.  Each staff person does this. 

Tip #11 - Have middle-schoolers serve as buddies for first-time guests.  They stay with the child during the service and make sure they are comfortable and connecting.

Tip #12 - If you're a portable campus, use supply carts to hold your check-in computers.  This is a simple, but very proficient way to house portable check-in systems.  You can see the picture below.

Tip #13 - If you're a portable campus, attach curtain tracks in the ceiling for your room curtains.  This saves you from having to take them up and down every week.  You can see an example in the picture below.

Tip #14 - Provide cabinets for volunteers to lock their valuables in while they are serving.

Tip #15 - Place preschoolers' take home papers, activity sheets, etc. in a lunch sack.  This makes it easier for parents to carry it which means it has a better chance of making it home.

Tip #16 - Have a laminated supply list sheet in each room.  Ask volunteers to write down any supplies that need to be replenished.  This makes it easier to know what each room needs each week.

Tip #17 - Have some games (Uno, Bible trivia, etc.) in each small group container that the leaders can play with the kids during pick-up, extra time, etc.

Tip #18 - Empower volunteers to lead other volunteers.  They have volunteers who are caring for and leading other volunteers.  I met several people who volunteer 20-30 hours a week and lead major parts of the ministry.  Raising up leaders of leaders is how they are able to care for and lead so many volunteers.

Tip #19 - Going multi-site gives you the opportunity to reach many more kids and families.  If they only had one campus, they would not be able to reach as many people.  They will continue to grow and reach more people because they are continuing to add more campuses.

Tip #20 - A thriving children's ministry is a key to building a thriving church.  Take a look at Church of the Highlands and other churches across the country that are exploding with growth and you will see they have dynamic children's ministries.  No matter how far a parent is away from God, their child is an inroad into their heart.  When you take a child by the hand, you take a parent by the heart.  Reach a child and you will reach their parents.  God blesses churches that make children's ministry a priority.

Bonus...here are some pictures of some of their children's areas.

If you're ever in the Birmingham area, check out this amazing church!  You will be encouraged and your vision will be expanded.