Nov 15, 2016

8 Things Most People Don't Get About Children's Ministry


If you are serving in children's ministry, you will resonate with the following eight statements.  I'm not writing this for us.  I'm writing this for those who aren't in children's ministry.  If we can help them see how important children's ministry is, our churches and ministries will benefit and be more effective.

#1 - Children's ministry is just as much about adults as it is kids.  Without adults serving in children's ministry, there is no children's ministry.  Leading adults is just as important as leading kids in children's ministry.  Our success in children's ministry rises and falls on the strength of the volunteer team we build and shepherd.  Most people looking in from the outside don't know this. 

I often say children's ministry leaders are some of the best in the church.  They are one of the few people who minister to all ages groups...kids...students who serve...adults who serve and parents.  It takes some serious leadership skills to be able to do this.

Each week children's ministry leaders shepherd all of these different age groups.  They often pray with the volunteers just as much as they pray with the kids.  They often invest spiritually in the adult volunteers as much as they invest in the kids.  They often counsel parents.  They do hospital visits.  They conduct funerals.  They officiate weddings.  They truly are pastors. 

#2 - Children's ministry is the best place to invest your time and resources.  Stats show that 85% of people who come to Christ do so before the age of 18.  That alone makes it clear where the greatest mission field is.  Churches that build great worship centers, coffee shops or adult space but neglect their children's ministry space are making a serious mistake.  Churches that spend big budget money on adult ministry but skimp on their children's ministry budget are limiting their impact.  Churches that have a large worship ministry staff but are understaffed in their children's ministry will not reach as many families.

When you invest in children's ministry you will see fruit now and for years to come.  It is also easier to build kids than to repair adults.  When you welcome kids into your church and make them a priority you are ushering in the blessings of Jesus.  He made this clear in Matthew 18 when He said, "If you welcome a child in my name, you are welcoming Me."

D.L. Moody, the famous minister of yesteryear, started his ministry out focused on reaching kids in the inner city of Chicago.  Later, as his ministry grew, he "graduated" out of kids ministry into being a pastor and evangelist.  Near the end of his ministry, as he looked back and reflected, he said this. 

"If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children." D. L. Moody
Moody got it.  He understood that the best investment you can make is in reaching children.  Most people don't get this.  Many people use children's ministry as a "stepping stone" to an adult ministry role.  I'm not saying God doesn't move people and direct them to different ministries, but I am thankful for those who are called by God to serve their entire life in children's ministry.

#3 - It takes a lot of volunteers to run a children's ministry.  Recently I was talking with a children's ministry leader and she said, "I just wish people outside of children's ministry understood how much work it takes to have volunteers in place each week."  She wasn't complaining, she was simply saying that most people don't realize just how much hard work it takes to enlist, equip and encourage a team of volunteers.  This is especially true in early childhood, where you need very low ratios of volunteers to kids. Volunteers don't just magically appear in the classrooms.  It takes a lot to make it happen.

#4 - Nursery and preschool ministry is not childcare.  How many times have you heard people refer to nursery and preschool ministry as "childcare?"  If only they knew that it's so much more.  We know the pathway of children is largely determined by their preschool years and a child's view of God is formed in their early years.  It's in the preschool years that the foundation is laid for a child's spiritual formation.  Children absorb more information in their first three years than any other time in life.

A recent study shows that a person's career success can be predicted as early as kindergarten.  A group of children were tracked from kindergarten through age 25.  The children who did well when they were kindergartners were far more likely to earn a college degree and have a full-time job by 25.  Those who assessed poorly in kindergarten had a much higher chance of getting arrested, binge drinking and not doing well financially as an adult.  The results confirmed once again that helping kids develop life skills in early childhood is critical for their future.  From an early age, this can determine if the child goes to prison or college and whether they end up employed or addicted.

We must lay the foundation of God and His Word in the hearts of children in their early years.  It prepares children to step across the line of faith when they get older.  As stated earlier, we know that 85% of people who come to faith in Christ do so before the age of 18.  As we teach preschoolers that God loves them and Jesus wants to be their best friend, we plant the early seeds that will grow into saving faith when they are older.

#5 - Success in children's ministry is just as much about helping parents as it is kids.  Those inside children's ministry understand that parents are the primary influencers of children.  We know the way to influence kids is to influence their parents.  We are constantly looking for ways to encourage and equip parents to disciple their kids.  We long to partner with parents in seeing their kids grow up to love Jesus.  

#6 - Kids deserve excellence just as much as adults do.  We cringe when we see someone take short cuts and then say, "It doesn't matter, they're just kids, they won't notice."  We want people to know that they will notice and they deserve our very best effort.

Jesus modeled this so well for us.  When you read the story of the feeding of the 5,000, the reason it says there were 5,000 men present was because in those days women and children didn't count.  They were considered insignificant.  But Jesus comes along and says "Let the children come to Me.  Don't hinder them, the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as them."  Jesus showed us that we should prepare a place for kids at the kingdom table.

#7 - There is no Jr. Holy Spirit.  Kids come to Jesus just like adults do.  God answers the prayers of kids just like He does adults.  God can move in their hearts just like He can adults.  In fact, the Bible says we must have the faith of a child to enter the kingdom of God.  It tells adults to act like kids rather than telling kids to act like adults.

#8 - Children are not just the church of tomorrow.  They are the church of today and tomorrow.  They can serve today.  They can make an impact now.  They can give now.  They can pray big prayers now.  They can lead now.  They can bring people to Jesus now.

As leaders in children's ministry, we are called to champion children's ministry.  Let's help people see and understand these things.  Pass this along to someone today and open their eyes to how important children's ministry is.

4 comments:

I would add two more things:
1) Childrens ministry is not a substitute for the command for parents 9and especially fathers) to lead and teach their children in spiritual matters.
2) Children should spend time sitting with adults and hearing preaching in the main service. The childrens ministry should compliment the church services not replace them.

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