But how you view the complaints can make a huge difference for your ministry. If you look at complaints as a gift that someone is giving you to help make the ministry better, it changes your perspective.
Complaints...no matter how far out there they may seem, usually contain some level of truth and your ministry can use them to improve.
Here's 10 complaints you may hear at times in children's ministry and how you can use them to make your ministry better.
If a child complains that the ministry is boring...it's probably because it is. When you hear this, check the energy and excitement level of your ministry. You may need to infuse some fresh life and energy.
Sit down with a group of kids and ask them what's boring. Is it the music? The lesson? The videos? The games? It may be time to change up your format, curriculum, music or approach. In our upcoming book, If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry, we dedicate an entire chapter to capturing kid's attention and making church a fun, exciting experience.
My child doesn't learn anything.
This complaint comes when parents ask their child what they learned and simply get a shrug or "about God" answer. The solution is to focus your teaching on one key truth for the month. Have the kids repeat that truth with you at least 6 times each week. When you hear something once, you only remember 10% of it. When you hear something 6 times, your retention rate goes up to 90%.
Then make sure you're sending home a take home page that shows parents what their child learned that day and provides follow-up questions.
My child doesn't have any friends.
Normally this complaint originates from a child who is shy or withdrawn. Provide opportunities for kids to talk and connect throughout your class time by using icebreakers and other activities that get kids talking and sharing about themselves. Also place kids in the same small group or classroom each week so they can build relationships.
It's not deep enough.
This usually comes from a parent who wants to make sure their child has a solid knowledge and understanding of the Bible. And that's a good thing. And that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice fun and games to help kids get a solid grasp of God's Word.
Make sure every game, activity, song, etc. is helping teach God's Word. Everything that happens in the class should point kids to the Bible.
It's also important to have a clear teaching pathway that maps out for parents what their kids will be learning while they are in your ministry. Showing parents a clear scope and sequence up front will give them confidence in what their child will be learning.
Also help parents understand that "deep" is not only head knowledge, but application as well. Going deeper means living out what you are learning.
I already heard that story before.
I remember as a child complaining about this once myself during a Bible lesson. The reason I remember is because I got in trouble for saying it and was removed from the classroom. Hey...what can I say...I needed a fresh take on it.
Keep a list of Bible stories you've taught and don't repeat the same story more than once in a 3 year period (of course...this doesn't include the story of the cross). By doing this, you'll give kids a broader view of the many, many incredible, true stories found in the Bible. Better to share that unique, not-as-well-known story than sharing David and Goliath for the 5th time.
There's not enough volunteers.
This complaint will come from all angles. From other volunteers who are stressed out because they're trying to manage a large class with little help. From parents who look into a room that has 30 preschoolers and 2 adults. From an elementary volunteer who has a "small" group of 20 kids.
Volunteers are what makes children's ministry happen. There is no children's ministry without them. The simple solution is to build a solid team of volunteers. I say simple...but it's every ministry's greatest challenge. But it can be done. In this post, I share 10 secrets to building a dynamic volunteer team. We've used these steps to build a team of over 2,600 children's ministry volunteers at our church. (BTW - we still need a lot more and always will)
It's too babyish.
This complaint usually comes from older kids who are not being targeted. When you have a class of kids who are different ages, don't make the mistake of targeting the youngest kids in the room. When you do this, the older kids will tune out. Always target the oldest child in the room. If you have a group of 1-5th graders, make sure the music, lesson, games and activities are geared to hit a 5th grader. With children, cool rolls downhill. I talk more about this here.
My baby's diaper didn't get changed.
No parents like to pick up their child and find their diaper is wet. Make sure you have a plan for your nursery volunteers to check babies' diapers during the service and make sure they are all changed at pick-up time. It's also a great idea to have stickers that say "I was changed" to place on the diapers.
We never know what's going on.
This complaint is due to lack of communication. Use many different avenues to communicate with parents. A parent Facebook page, emails, texts, take home pages and phone calls are just a few of the methods you can use. Find a good balance though...bombard them and you'll hear the opposite complaint. Create too much noise and it will get drowned out.
My child hasn't connected with any of the volunteers.
It's hard for a volunteer to effectively connect with more than 8 kids by himself or herself. Make sure your volunteer ratios are conducive to volunteers getting to know the kids. Here are the ratios we follow.
You can also be intentional about providing icebreakers and activities that allow the volunteers to talk with and get to know the kids.
Ask volunteers to also be intentional about hanging out with kids during the pre-service time and building relationships with them. You can also have kids write down their prayer requests each week and then have the volunteers take the requests home to pray for them during the week.
Okay. The floor is yours. What other complaints have you heard about children's ministry? What are some other ways you fix the complaints mentioned above? We'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below.