Is It Time to Update Your Children's Ministry?

Are you like me?  Sometimes I don’t take time to update the operating system and apps on my mobile devices.  It’s easy to ignore updates for a variety of reasons - too busy...procrastination...being satisfied with the way things are.  I can get by with this for a while, but eventually it catches up with me.  One of my devices is an iPad 1.’s ancient.  There are many apps and games that won’t work on this iPad because the operating system is out of date and the new stuff isn’t compatible with it.  The result...I am limited on what I can do with this device.  If I want to have access to the latest apps, I must replace it with a newer one.

There’s a principle in this for us.  If we’re going to stay relevant and operating at peak level, we must constantly update our ministries and when needed, replace what’s not working with something newer.  I know it’s not always convenient to update.  Ministry is like a moving train, isn’t it?  Sunday always returns...and you’ve got to be ready.  Always looking ahead...preparing for the next Sunday, event or program.  But it’s vital to take time to evaluate and update.  It takes intentionality.

“We change every day.  We changed every day when he was here, and we’ve been changing every day since he’s not been here.  I don’t think the values should change.  But everything else can change. Yes, there will be things where we say something and two years later we’ll feel totally different.  Actually, there may be things we say that we may feel totally different about in a week.  We’re okay with that.  Actually, we think it’s good that we have the courage to admit it.”
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

Our church is multi-site with nine campuses at the time of this writing.  My role is to look after the children’s ministry as a whole.  We have a children’s director at each campus.  Each Monday they send me a brief report about the weekend.  Here’s what I’ve asked them to share.

What is one thing that went well this past weekend?  I ask this question to find out what’s working.

What is one thing you noticed that you can improve?  I ask this question to find out what needs to be tweaked, changed or dropped.

Is there a story about a kid’s or family’s life that was impacted?  I ask this question to find out what is bearing fruit, to remind us of “why” we do what we do and to celebrate life change.

I meet with the directors together as a group every other week.  Part of our meeting is discussing what is working well, what needs improving and what needs to be changed?  Once a month, I also meet individually with each director to talk about what needs to be improved or changed at their campus.  Then twice a year, we spend extended time in strategic planning.  A big part of this time is spent questioning everything we do.  We take every part of our ministry and ask these and other questions.
  • Does this still correlate with our goals?
  • Is this still helping us accomplish our purpose?
  • Is this overlapping or duplicating something else we are doing?
  • Are we seeing lives changed through this?
  • Is it working?
  • Does it need to be tweaked or adjusted?
  • How can we improve it?
  • Do we need to stop doing it?
Children’s ministries must be willing to change if they are going to continue to reach kids and families at an optimal level.  Letting go of what’s not working makes way for what does.  One reason our church has grown over the years is because the leaders have been willing to change.  We came to the point years ago where we realized we needed to make some changes in our worship.  Some of the newer, contemporary songs we moved to were louder and a different style than the hymns our older members grew up with.  But they realized it wasn’t just about them.  They realized it was about being willing to change to reach the next generation.  The chairman of our elder board reflected their heart with these words. “It’s not my style of music, but when I look over and see my grandkids worshiping and passionately engaging with Jesus, I realize that is what is most important.  Reaching the next generation is what matters most.”

Show me a ministry that is dying and I’ll show you a ministry that has refused to update.  Show me a ministry that is thriving and I’ll show you a ministry that is willing to update for the next generation.

This is an excerpt from the chapter "Change Like Disney" in the new book If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry.  You can get your copy now at