10 Symptoms of an Unhealthy Children's Ministry

How do you know if your children's ministry is unhealthy?  Here's 10 telltale signs and how to treat it.

Symptom #1 - Lack of volunteers - crisis mode. Classrooms are not able to open due to lack of volunteers.  The volunteers you do have are stretched thin.

Treatment:  Build your volunteer team.  In this post, I share proven methods of building a volunteer team, no matter what size church you are serving in.

Symptom #2 - Programs or events that are not effective are perpetuated.  They are continued because "we've always done it that way" or because "Sister-So and So started this years ago" or "the few families who attend would be upset if we stopped it."

Treatment:  Regularly examine everything you do.  Is it helping people grow spiritually?  Is it helping you reach new families?  When you get negative answers to these questions, be willing to adjust and change.

Symptom #3  - Very few kids.  The largest classes are senior adult classes while many of the kids' classrooms sit empty.  You rarely hear the giggles and laughter of kids echoing in the hallways and when you do, there's a good chance it's grandkids visiting from out-of-town.

Treatment:  Be willing to do what it takes to reach young families.  In this post, I share what young parents are looking for when they visit a church.  Remember...anything that is healthy will be growing.

Symptom #4 - No partnership with other ministries.  The children's ministry is a silo.  Other ministries are seen as competition for resources, volunteers and space.  There is no collaboration or strategizing together.

Treatment:  Move from competition to collaboration.  In this post, I share how to make this transition.

Symptom #5 - The "why" of children's ministry is not articulated.  Mission statement?  What's that?  The church sees children's ministry as "childcare."

Treatment:  Start with the why.  In this post, I share the why of children's ministry.

Symptom #6 - Volunteers don't feel valued.  They are shoved into classrooms with little or no training.  They never hear "thank you."  They are never asked for their ideas, input or feedback.

Treatment:  Shift your thinking from what you can get "from" volunteers to what you want "for" volunteers.  Say "thank you" every week.  Here's more about how to value your volunteers.

Symptom #7 - Little or no passion.  People are just going through the motions.  You hear more talk about the past than you do the future.  Volunteers see their role as a drudgery instead of a delight. 

Treatment:  Get fired up!  Everything rises and falls on leadership.  Be a thermostat rather than a thermometer.  A thermostat controls the temperature instead of just measuring it.  In this post, I share 5 ways to get your children's ministry fired up.

Symptom #8 - Kids are saying it's boring.  Parents are having to "make" their kids come to church.  Kids are forced to sit and endure the lessons.  They hear "shhhhh" quite often. 

Treatment:  Create fun, relevant environments that will have kids dragging their parents to church.  In this post, I share how to make church a fun experience for kids.

Symptom #9 - The only time you connect with parents is when you are asking them to serve.  Parents are seen as a resource for your children's ministry instead of your children's ministry a resource for parents.

Treatment:  Realize that if you truly want to influence kids, then you must influence their parents.  Begin partnering with parents and equipping them to be the spiritual leader of their kids.  You can find out more about how to do this here.

Symptom #10 - Run down facilities.  Facilities are a reflection of a children's ministry's attitude and commitment to excellence.  Run down facilities will make a children's ministry appear even more unhealthy than it may really be.  Parents will immediately make an assumption about a children's ministry based on what the facilities look like.

Treatment:  Keep your children's ministries clean and clear of clutter.  Update them when you can.  Don't have the budget for a new children's building?  Do what you can with what you've got.  It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do.  And remember...clean and tidy doesn't have anything to do with the size or scope of the building.

The floor is yours.  What are some other symptoms of an unhealthy children's ministry?  Share with us in the comment section below.