10 Things Sucessful Children's Ministries Have in Common

Look under the hood of successful children's ministries and you'll find they have 10 things in common. 

#1 - Strong leadership.  Just like in everything else, everything rises and falls on leadership.  Successful ministries are built by solid, committed leaders.  God anoints and blesses people, not programs. 

#2 - Compelling vision.  The ministry has a clear, concise vision that keeps the vision on track and moving forward.  Everyone on the team knows why they are serving and what they are working toward.

#3 - UnityVision falls flat without unity behind the vision.  The team is committed to unity and tenaciously protects it.  Out of this unity flows power, anointing and blessings.

#4 - Solid volunteer team.  Last year, I hosted a gathering of the 20 largest children's ministries in the nation.  Without exception, every one of them has a strong team of volunteers that make the ministry happen.  I've said it over and over again...because it is true...the success of a children's ministry rises and falls on the strength of the volunteer team.  In fact, in most of these churches, it's hard to tell staff and volunteers apart. 

#5 - Commitment to excellence.  Successful children's ministries are built on doing the small things with excellence.  Details matter to them.  Their bathrooms are clean.  Their check-in areas are neat and free of clutter.  They promptly follow up with families who contact them.  It's hard to find typos on their take home papers.  No, they aren't perfect.  No one is.  If you look hard enough, you'll find some weak spots.  But they know what the weak spots are and you can be sure they are working on fixing and improving them.

#6 - Focus Successful children's ministries don't equate busyness with success.  They equate being productive with success.  They don't necessarily have a full calendar, but they do have a focused calendar.  There is a big difference.  They funnel their time, energy and resources into doing a few things extremely well. 

#7 - Change.  They constantly evaluate everything they do and change what is not working or is outdated.  They grasp the Message very tightly, but everything else is held with open hands.  They are thankful for the past,  but they are not married to it.  They spend most of their time looking forward and occasionally glance back at the past for reference.

#8 - Relevant ministry.  They keep up with kid culture.  They know how to connect with today's kids.  When parents ask their kids the famous end of service question - "Did you have fun today?" - the answer is "Yes!"  But don't be quick to judge the term "fun."  Fun at church for a kid means you made the Bible come alive for him or her.  It means you let them be a kid.  It means you used teaching methods that they connect with.  Fun may appear to be a shallow word, but it's actually a deep word when you look at it like this.

#9 - Passion for reaching the unchurched.  Simply put, they reach kids and families for Christ.  Unchurched families walk in the doors on a regular basis.  Kids' lives are changed.  Parents' lives are changed.  The baptistry waters are constantly stirred.  They have a driving passion for the lost that won't let them stop until every single child and family in their community knows Jesus.

#10 - Humility.  Though numbers 1-9 are true about successful children's ministries, if you were to interview them and ask why they are successful, they would shrug their shoulders and say, "To be honest, it's not because of us.  We're not this good.  Only God could do this.  We are in way over our heads."  This humility keeps them on their faces before God.  They know they don't have all the answers.  And that's a good place to be. 

These 10 points lead to some great discussion questions you can have with your team.  Sit down and ask yourselves...

1.  Are we leading well?  How can we improve as leaders? 
2.  Do we have a clear, compelling vision that people want to follow?
3.  Is our ministry unified?  Do we work hard to protect our unity?
4.  How strong is our volunteer team?  How can we strengthen it?
5.  Are we committed to excellence?  Do we strive to do the small things well?
6.  Are we focused?  Does our calendar reflect busyness or productivity?
7.  Are we open to change?  Are we evaluating everything we do on a regular basis?
8.  Are we connecting with the kids?  Are kids having fun at our church?
9.  Are we passionate about reaching the unchurched? 
10.  Is pride getting in our way?  Are we willing to humble ourselves before God and seek His face?