From this discussion and as I talk with other children's ministries leaders across the country, here are 10 of the biggest challenges facing children's ministries.
Challenge #1 - Volunteers. Volunteers are the biggest asset of a children's ministry. There is no children's ministry without them. And yet I've never seen a children's ministry that didn't need more volunteers. The challenge? How do you enlist them? How do you equip them? How do you keep them?
If you are facing this challenge, here's help. This is how I built a volunteer team of over 2,600 people. You can also get help from my new book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams."
Challenge #2 - Less frequent attendance patterns. Families are attending church less frequently. Whereas "faithful attendance" used to be 3-4 times a month, now it's once a month. Some of this is due to kids splitting time between divorced parents, sports programs and extremely busy schedules.
If you are facing this challenge, you can get more help and insight here, here and here.
Challenge #3 - Shallow faith. 50% of people who have walked away from their faith say it's because they simply don't believe any more. Their faith was shallow and when it was put to the test, it wilted away.
You can read more about this and how to change this pattern here and here.
Challenge #4 - Equipping parents to disciple their kids. In the last decade, there has been a greater emphasis placed on equipping parents to be the primary spiritual leaders of their children. While there have been lots of great resources developed, it's still a big challenge to find resources that parents will actually use on a weekly basis.
You can read more about this and get some ideas here and here.
Challenge #5 - Changing family dynamics. "Family" is no longer just defined as the traditional unit of a husband, wife and two kids. You must know how to effectively minister to single parent families, blended families, grandfamilies, foster families and more.
You can get help with this here, here, and here.
Challenge #6 - LGBT issues. How will you respond when someone in a same-sex relationship wants to volunteer? How will you respond and minister to a child who says he or she is transgender? Will you dedicate the baby of a same-sex couple? These are real situations that you will face if you haven't already.
Here and here is some help navigating this.
Challenge #7 - Seeing guest families return. Even churches that have lots of guests coming, struggle to see a good percentage of them return. How do you get them back? How do you get them involved? How do you get them connected?
Here, here and here are some ideas that will help you see guests families come back.
Challenge #8 - Developing layers of volunteer leaders - As the ministry grows, it becomes critical to raise up volunteers who can care for and lead other volunteers. Establishing this next level of volunteers can be a challenge. It requires more in-depth training, investment and development of volunteers.
If you are facing this challenge, here and here are some ways to develop layers of volunteer leaders.
Challenge #9 - Multi-site challenges. Multi-site churches are now the norm. There is a multi-site church in every major city in the country. Many of you reading this are leading a multi-site children's ministry or will be called upon to do so in the future. Multi-site children's ministry helps you reach many more kids and families, but it also comes with its own unique challenges. If you need help with multi-site, check out this and this.
Challenge #10 - Erosion of truth - Postmodernism has led us down the path to "there is no absolute truth." Truth is based on individual preferences. What is right for you is right for you and what is right for me is right for me. Tolerance is the mantra.
We must face this challenge by helping kids see that the Bible is the final authority in all matters. You can get help with this here and here.
The good news is these challenges present us with great opportunities to show kids and families that Jesus is the answer. He is everything they need. As we lift Him up, they can have a life-changing relationship with Him. Let's walk boldly in this promise as we navigate these challenges.
The floor is yours. What are some other challenges you see children's ministry facing? What are you doing to meet these challenges? Share your thoughts and insight with us in the comment section below.