10 Common Strategy Mistakes Children's Ministries Make

Here are 10 common strategy mistakes that children's ministries make. 

#1 - They target the youngest kids in the room when they are teaching.  When they have a group of kids together, they bring the lesson down to the level of the youngest kids.  In doing so, they alienate the older kids.  The younger kids, who take their cues from the older kids, see this and tune out as well.

You can avoid this mistake by aiming for the oldest kids in the room when you are teaching.  Cool rolls down hill.  Catch the attention of the oldest kids in the room and you'll have the attention of all the kids in the room.  You can reach more about this in the book "If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry."

#2 - They beg for volunteers.  When you need more volunteers, the natural tendency is to panic and make desperate appeals for help.  But this is a mistake because it has the opposite effect.  When people see desperation, they pull away.  People are drawn to vision.  Build your volunteer team by offering people the opportunity to be part of something significant.  You can learn more about how to effectively build a great volunteer team in the book "The Formula for Building a Great Volunteer Team."  

#3 - They fill their calendar with events and programs.  They fall into the trap of believing that busyness = productivity.  This spreads their budget, volunteers, staff, marketing and energy thin and they end up with a lot of mediocre events and programs.  A better approach is to focus on doing a few things with excellence.  People are drawn to excellence. 

#4 - They don't involve parents in their child's salvation decision.  They pray the salvation prayer with kids when the parents are not present.  In doing this, they miss an opportunity to reach not only the child, but the entire family with the Gospel.  Another strategy that has been proven to be effective in reaching the entire family, is inviting kids to a class with their parents where the Gospel is shared

#5 - They equate knowledge alone with spiritual growth.  Learning Bible facts and memorizing verses is only part of spiritual growth.  It also takes application, relationships and serving for wholesome spiritual growth to take place.

#6 - They put more emphasis on guest follow up than on providing a great first experience for guests.  Follow up can enhance a great first experience, but it can't overcome a bad first experience.  Yes, follow up, but spend even more time and energy on giving guests a great first experience. 

#7 - They tell kids they are the church of tomorrow, but don't allow them to be the church of today.  Kids are the church of tomorrow and today.  It's vital that we give them opportunities to serve and make a difference now.  Kids who are told to "sit still and be quiet" will grow up to "sit still and be quiet."  But kids who start serving and being the church now, are much more likely to serve God tomorrow when they are adults.  You can hear more about this in the webinar "Making Children's Ministry a Priority in Your Church."

#8 - Not connecting with other children's ministries.  It's easy to get so busy that you don't make time to connect with other churches for ideas, brainstorming and feedback.  Being a silo will shortchange your ministry.  Contact some other churches and arrange to visit them.  This can be a regular source of fresh ideas, insight and inspiration. 

#9 - Using lectures as the primary teaching method.  Studies show that the least effective method of teaching is lecturing.  And yet, many ministries still put a talking head in front of kids for 20-30 minutes and wonder why they are bored and disengaged.  The most effective teaching method is hands-on activities, discussions and games.

#10 - Treating the nursery as simply baby-sitting.  The early years of a person's life are the most critical.  Babies' brains can form over 1,000 neural connections every second.  And these connections are the building blocks of their future.  Children who are read to from the Bible, talked to about God, sung worship songs to and given personal attention in the nursery will have better cognitive capacity and a better opportunity to grow up to follow Jesus.

Your turn.  Do you agree with these?  Why or why not?  What are some other mistakes children's ministries make?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.