7 Children's Ministry Bad Habits to Break in 2016

Bad habits in children's ministry.  You can pick them up by watching someone else or by simply not realizing they are bad habits.  Weeks turn into months and then years and you've had the habit so long you begin to think it's the only way to do ministry.  But it's not.  There is a better way.

Here are 7 of the most common bad habits in children's ministry and how to break them.   

Begging for volunteers.  Been there....done that... for years.  I wondered why it wasn't working, but kept doing it until I finally was able to see, with the help of others, that it simply doesn't work.  People are drawn to vision...not need.  You may be desperate for volunteers...we all are at times...but don't resort to begging.  It will have the opposite effect.  Promise yourself this year that you won't beg for volunteers.  Instead, here's 10 simple secrets to building the volunteer team you need.

Talking too much during the lesson.  Most of us picked up this habit because that's the way we were taught as kids.  Sit down.  Be quiet.  I'm going to download Bible information into your brain by lecturing you.  Problem is...it's not effective.  Studies show time and time again that lecturing is the least effective method of helping kids understand and retain Bible God's Word.  And yet we continue to do it.  Let this be the year that you break out of the norm and begin implementing more effective methods of teaching.  Here's a great tool you can use to make your lessons memorable.

Skimping on the details.  Did you hear or say this last year?  "Oh...they're just kids...they won't notice."  Have you used this or other excuses to not pay fantastic attention to the details?  Have you used this or other excuses to not create extraordinaire learning experiences for kids?  Have you used this or other excuses to not do children's ministry with excellence?  It's time to bring in the Tiki Bird.  Read about it here.

Saying "yes" too often.  Was your calendar crowded with events last year because you said "yes" too often?  Were your volunteers spread thin among lots of programs?  Were your weekend services mediocre because you had so much going on during the week?  This is one of the most common bad habits that ministries fall into.  They think the more they do, the more fruitful they will be.  But it normally doesn't work that way.
The most fruitful are those who are the most focused. (click to tweet)
You can do a lot of things with mediocrity or a few things with excellence.  Is this the year you need to say "no" to some programs or events?  Is this the year you need to de-clutter your ministry calendar?  Is this the year you need to say "no" to some good things so something great can flourish?

Here's some help with knowing what to say "no" to and what to say "yes" to.

Spending more time following up than on making a great first impression.  Let's put the truth out there.  If a guest family has a bad first experience, it doesn't matter how many times you follow up with them...they aren't coming back.  Your phone calls...letters...emails...text messages...personal notes...won't bring them back if they had a lousy first experience.

It's easy to forget this and fall into the habit of spending more time on follow-up than you do on making a great first impression.  Am I saying you shouldn't follow up with people?  No...but I will say this -  I once asked the pastor of the 3 largest church in the country what he and his team did for follow up and here was his response.  "Nothing.  We create irresistible environments.  Do this and they will come back."
Follow-up can enhance a great first experience but it can't overcome a bad first experience. (tweet this)
When you combine a great first experience with great follow-up, you will see guests return.  When you combine a bad first experience with great follow-up, you will not see guests return.

Here's a tool you can use to give guests a great first experience.

Using volunteers to build the ministry instead of using the ministry to build volunteers.  The urgency of staffing classrooms with volunteers can quickly lead you into the bad habit of seeing volunteers simply as someone to fill a role.  I fell into this trap for years until one day as I was reading Matthew 28:19, it hit me.  I am not called to make "volunteers."  I am called to make "disciples."

We are called to invest our lives in helping people become followers of Christ.  And a big way this happens is though serving.  When you invite people to serve, you are inviting them to grow in their faith.  One of our primary roles as children's ministry leaders is to walk with our volunteers and help them grow spiritually as they serve.

This means instead of asking them to stay over and serve another service, we make sure they get a chance to worship.  This means we know where they are spiritually and help them take next steps to continue growing in their faith.  This means we pray with them and for them.  This means we walk with them on their spiritual journey.

Here's more ways to invest in your volunteer team.

Working on the ministry, but not working on you.  It's easy to fall into the bad habit of getting so busy working on the ministry that you don't take time to work on yourself.  This bad habit will cause you to run on fumes and eventually come to a screeching halt.

Break this habit by scheduling time to work on you.  Spend time with God each day.  Schedule time to read.  Schedule time to attend a conference.  Make sure you have some down time built in.  Get your rest.  Rub shoulders with people who help you grow.
One of the best investments you can make in the ministry is to invest in yourself.  As you go, so goes the ministry. (tweet this)
Here's some more ways you can invest in yourself.

Your turn.  The floor is yours.  What are some other bad habits we form in children's ministry?  How can we break them this year?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below.